Especially in times like these, the right news source is one of the most important things to find.
Perhaps no one understood where social media would end up, or rather what kind of influence it would end up having on the world when it was first unleashed onto society. At first, it became a place where you could share family photos and rekindle with old friends … even share an image of a meal that looked so good on the dish you just had to snap a photo of it. But over time, it became a place that made it easy for bullies to attack their prey, and a source of news that bordered on bad fiction, and at a startling daily rate.
But what was worse: people would share these news reports as fact, believing in them, hook line and sinker.
News sources of the past
Of course someone who spends his life writing about the news would certainly have a biased approach. (I knew you’d say that.) But it’s true, I do this full-time, and it matters to me because it mattered to those that came before me … a sentiment that can sometimes seem lost when looking at younger generations I’m afraid. What came before was meant to instruct and light the way through that proverbial tunnel of life.
In his day, Mordecai Richler had the referendum to write about … the war between the Quebecers and the Park Extension and Villeray Jews of the past. But unlike today, back then, you trusted a piece by this late, great writer because you knew he did his research; you knew he would bring you what he had pored over for hours on end, checking his facts and re-checking them once more.
Equal to him was of course Hunter S. Thompson, who had the Nixon presidential campaign, Vietnam, the Black Panthers, the Hell’s Angels and so many more topics to write about in his day, there wasn’t time for fake news … just honest, Gonzo Journalism at its finest.
And is that the problem? Do people have too much time on their hands these days, forever bent forward, noses dipping into their cellular phones?
My experience with fake news
Myself, I’ve been freelancing for quite some time, and like a pirate, I go form gig to gig, looking to leave behind a legitimate body of work. It was the case for me when Covid-19 hit. I needed a new place to peddle my work, my writing, and I looked everywhere online … many of which were fake ads, but I’d already been introduce to these long ago, so I knew who and what to watch out for.
Perhaps what was the most disheartening though, were the ads that requested writers for Covid-19 related articles exclusively, always and astonishingly with the tag stating “Must be willing to embellish.” To me, that meant that most of what was seen online was being embellished and it seemed so awful to me as a journalist and as a human being for that matter. Here were people out there, looking to these social media sources for updates on something terrible that was affecting the whole world, and they were being lied to. It could mean death rates for the virus, what to do and what not to do, etc.
Here I was, a journalist that wanted to be like the aforementioned Thompson, Richler and the other greats and tell the truth about what was happening in my time. I felt it was my responsibility to bring the truth to paper and here were a bunch of online jokers trying to lie to the public; to try and make matters worse or better than they actually were and are. I didn’t want any part of it, so I stayed away.
I concentrated on other writing work, and finally I started sending out for more opportunities, as I missed the game of putting story to page, journalism-wise. I finally got a call from a local paper … one that has had a history of bringing the truth as I called it, to its community since the early nineties; not lying to its readership, but telling them honestly what was happening with this virus and how it affected its community and readership, and that’s the paper you hold and are reading now.
I was and am honored to write for a paper that prints weekly and brings the news as it happens to your doorstep … something you can’t find online at many magazines these days, I’m afraid.
Beware the purple elephant
So next time, if you’re scrolling down your wall on whatever Social Media platform and you see a report stating that they found a four-armed chimpanzee in Zaire, or a purple elephant surfing off the Coast of Australia, please don’t fall for it folks, and look for a legitimate source for your news.