According to sources . . .

November 24, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Real news, fake news, the Apollo moon landings were shot on a sound stage in Hollywood, the Kardashians got a new chihuahua, and a man is taking the British Columbia government to court in an effort to prove that Bigfoot is an indigenous species of wildlife.

You can’t make this stuff up. Well, maybe you can make some of it up.

The explosion of information that now cycles around the world at the speed of light and fills up countless web pages, blogs, Youtube, news channels, news sources, and pretty much every persons pocket in the form of a Smartphone is continuous and arrives from every part of the globe.

In this myriad source of information there is good news, bad news, truthful news, untruthful news, and just lot of plain weird stuff.

Somehow you just have to wade through the mess and try to figure out what is right and what is wrong. A little common sense helps.

There are websites dedicated to ‘proving’ that the world is indeed, flat as a pancake and we’ve been lied to all along in some massive government and Illuminate conspiracy.

They have charts, maps, aviation information, and all sorts of ‘proof’ that the Antarctic actually surrounds an entirely flat planet. In this case you have to actually see their maps to get the gist of the idea.

This is one theory I, and probably most of the rest of the planet dismiss as a little whacky although they do have some fancy presentation material.

The point is – that’s right – you can’t believe everything you read.

On the good side, the world wide web has opened communications around the planet. Television and radio changed the speed at which news arrives and now the Internet has once again changed the game.

With the speed that news stories travel there is always a push to get the information out as soon as possible and that has resulted in some serious problems with the way the news is delivered – even from large well established news agencies.

Sloppy work that is the norm in citizen journalism is now spilling over to national and international media.

It’s no secret that news reporting has always been able to bend the perspective of events depending on the political leanings of the person on top of the organization in general – see William Randolp Hearst – but most news agencies, at least in the free world, followed a set of guidelines that included a level of journalistic integrity.

However, the last few years has seen some of that integrity slip away as news agencies scramble to get a story online.

Many stories are now filled with information based on reports that are ‘according to sources’ or ‘sources have reported’ without naming their sources or where the information came from.

“According to sources” could mean it was sent in by a reporter on the ground watching events unfold or it could be Otis the town drunk phoning in to a news agency from his garage.

Naming a source of news as a credible witness or expert in a field is a key piece of news reporting.

Unless you are dealing with the legendary ‘Deep Throat’ whistle-blower character from the Watergate scandal and realize that revealing his identity might get him ‘terminated with extreme prejudice’, identifying a source is important.

Even then, reporters still met with “Deep Throat” and verified his involvement and credentials and explained why they couldn’t reveal his identity.

I have a strong belief that freedom of the press is one of the most important rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That freedom to report what is happening in the world, and especially in government is the only way you can maintain your freedom.

There’s no better way to erode your freedom than having a government ‘telling you’ what the news is.

At the same time the press must be diligent in reporting the news truthfully and correctly.

The press must rely on sources to find out information but unless we know who those sources are and what and who they represent, the information can be questionable.

Even though the guy in B.C. who is suing the government probably doesn’t have much of a chance at proving his pet Bigfoot is alive, at least we know who he is.

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