By Lorene Keitch
Misinformation ruled the week.
This week’s Pioneer reported on two separate news items that stemmed from fake news. The first was an allegedly deliberate attempt by two locals to instill fear and panic in residents. It is unclear why they would choose to spread lies about a fire spreading from Canal Flats to Fairmont. The fake report and the page on which it was posted were removed quickly, but not before people saw the post and panicked.
The Canal Flats fire department fielded dozens of phone calls from concerned citizens wanting to know more about the fire’s danger, only to find out, with relief I am sure, that their town was in fact not at risk of a fire.
It is a sick mind that thinks this is a funny joke at a time when our province is burning to the ground. Fear of fire already threatens our daily existence as we watch the horrifying images flood our computer and TV screens. To make a joke of it is unconscionable.
The second bit of news was the rumour swirling around town that the highway through Kootenay National Park had shut down. Our intrepid reporter Nikki Fredrikson had been hot on the chase of all forest-fire related news stories and had heard no such thing when we saw on social media the endless posts from people about the closure.
A few minutes of looking at official parks websites, as well as phoning her Parks Canada contact to ensure that the website was up-to-date confirmed what Ms. Fredrikson already knew, that access points to trails were closed but the highway itself remained open to vehicles.
It proves the point I often make to naysayers of community newspapers: our job is to fact check before we post. If you want a credible source for your news and information, turn to news sites that willl always fact check.
While the volume and speed of information has increased to an overwhelming deluge, it can be hard to weed out the accurate from the misinformed or deliberately false reports out there.
Reporters are paid to sift through the constant stream, burn the fake news and present just the facts.