Truth be told – hopefully

“Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

If ever a quote seemed tailor-made to apply to a situation, the line above seems a perfect sentiment for the transfer from 2016 to 2017.

While this particular prose comes from the poem, Ring Out, Wild Bells by Alfred Lord Tennyson, which was published in 1850, the year he was appointed Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland (it’s amazing how learned even the most humble scribe can manage to appear since the advent of Wikipedia), it could quite aptly apply to hopes for the currently emergent new year.

2016 was a difficult year to be a journalist (a real one anyway). A petulant lout who served up more whoppers than Burger King managed to get himself elected president of the United States and it became increasingly apparent that a significant portion of society was sourcing information from faux “News” websites that make no effort to adhere to basic journalistic norms, like making sure articles contain facts not just unverified statements and propaganda.

The very idea of what a legitimate News source is has become an open question, as reporters watch Twitter, breathlessly awaiting the latest dispatches through a medium that is an open forum to anyone capable of operating a cell phone.

Conspiracy theory enthusiasts enjoyed a heyday in 2016, culminating in the nearly-tragic “Pizzagate” phenomenon. That lunacy resulted in a man with an assault rifle showing up at a Washington eatery to investigate online allegations it was the base of a child sex ring under the direction of U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. To understand how this could happen, one has to accept fans of such unlikely tales have long been among us. They just used to sit at home alone with their copy of the National Enquirer, unable to share in public their concerns about the goings on at Roswell or the imminent return of The King (aka Elvis) for fear of being laughed out of the room. Now, thanks to their ability to coalesce in the darkest corners of the internet with others suffering similar delusions, they make policy in Washington.

At the very least it is to be hoped we can forestall the coming of the “post-truth era” here in Canada long enough for the pendulum to swing back on a global scale. Without a common reality, what can we accomplish?

Better still though, would be a return to common sense in the near term and that, I guess, is our wish for 2017.

“Ring out the false, ring in the true.”