No wonder folks are confused these days. While scrolling through my Twitter feed today as I sipped my morning coffee I was pleased to see the breaking news from BBC about Scotland ending almost all COVID restrictions. Phew … some good news to start the day. I know Scotland is a long way from Montreal, but this has just got to be a great step in the worldwide battle against the virus.
Yet, as I continued on my virtual way around the world, I came across some significantly less positive news. Like Scotland, Wuhan, China is a long way from where I live, but the news of an outbreak and government orders for mass testing put the skids to my Scotland-induced good mood. Regardless of the much debated origin of the Coronavirus, the fact that China is being so cautious was unsettling at best.
Then came something a little too close to home. News from Florida that the current wave is the worst yet. In three Tweets we have gone from relaxing restrictions in Europe to a major North American tourism location claiming its worst outbreak ever. What’s a feller to believe?
The sources of this information, the BBC and Boston Globe, are well established and respected media outlets. I can only imagine what the fringe (non-mainstream as I believe they call themselves) is saying. I prefer not to check out these sites lest a cookie be deposited on my PC that will one day come back to haunt me. Paranoid? Who? Me?
Of course the onus is on us, the public, to use our sensibility to discern what makes a good news source. They used to say that the great Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country. This was long before cable news outlets arose, and certainly well before the proliferation of information and misinformation on the Internet.
Why was Cronkite any more trustworthy than Huntley and Brinkley over on NBC? Were those guys making up stories from scratch? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong.
I often pondered the notion of Cronkite’s trustworthiness. Not that I thought him to be anything less than honest in his newscasts, but I figured no one, on any of the three networks, would deliberately lie about news items. Why was Cronkite any more trustworthy than Huntley and Brinkley over on NBC? Were those guys making up stories from scratch? I don’t think so, but I could be wrong.
But when the topic of the misinformation is potentially life threatening, it is incumbent upon readers to educate themselves from ‘trusted’ sources.
However, not only do we find ourselves with an essentially unlimited access to the publication of nonsense of all sorts on the Internet, we also find ourselves fighting a deadly pandemic. By all means, publish endless posts and articles about the flatness of the earth, the faked moon landing, and all the other conspiracy theories. But when the topic of the misinformation is potentially life threatening, it is incumbent upon readers to educate themselves from ‘trusted’ sources.