Janet Knox, President and CEO of Nova Scotia Health Authority, answers questions from reporters at Province House April 30
©Jeff Harper - Metro Halifax
Maybe you’re asking, “Where do we turn?”
All around us, the Internet has changed the way people get news. Often, Facebook delivers stories to people, stories based on what their friends already like and agree with.
The stories may come from the mainstream media, they may come from “alternate” news sites that have no presence other than as phantom websites. Heck, they can even come from Macedonian teenagers inventing fake news to collect revenue from Google ads on their sites.
What does it mean for reporters and editors in the frequently maligned mainstream media? Well, many of us inside the media have spent years learning our craft; dealing with politicians and writing properly sourced news and informed commentary, regardless of who was in office. And that is what we still have to offer: news, commentary and information from an identifiable source.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t get better.
Many of us inside the media have spent years learning our craft; dealing with politicians and writing properly sourced news and informed commentary, regardless of who was in office. And that is what we still have to offer: news, commentary and information from an identifiable source. •••••••••••••••
Perhaps, more than ever — and even more difficult in the fast-paced digital news and social media circuit — it means we have to have an almost slavish devotion to accuracy.
The mainstream media will have to report more carefully and also be ready to correct mistakes quickly and clearly.
Certainly no one likes to admit when they make a mistake; a White House pool reporter reported this past weekend that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed — the reporter was wrong, retracted his statement and apologized, but officials with the Trump administration used the mistake to smear the media as a whole.
It is, admittedly, a little hard to swallow from an administration that now talks about “alternate facts” — in other words, lies — when claiming huge numbers attended the Trump inauguration, when those claims are clearly and demonstrably wrong.
Some people have argued that we’re now in a “post-truth” world, where a president can bluster and claim that the media “made up” stories about his anger at U.S. intelligence agencies, even while his Tweets stay on his Twitter feed, saying things like “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
Where that same president can claim, “Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday,” even though his staff later admitted he didn’t write it at all.
The message is clear: the media is now dealing with a situation where some believe they can simply make things up.
We have to be more careful than ever to be accurate. We also have to be ready to clearly identify and call out both mistakes and lies for what they are, when they occur.
We want you to consider the source, and not find us wanting.