To a journalist, section 2b of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of the opinion and freedom of the press, is the foundation of all that they do. This privilege carries with it a responsibility to inform us, the public, on matters that affect us.
The dismal handling of and communications about the garbage pick-up situation in our town is a perfect illustration of why the use of Facebook and other types of social media to inform the public is a poor substitute for meaningful news reporting.
A large volume of information and misinformation is disseminated via the Hope Facebook page on many issues affecting the people. Sadly, this is typical of Facebook in general. As has happened time and time again in our town, when an issue of importance comes up, people moan about it on Facebook. Some may go so far as to create a Facebook page and group about the issue. Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside about having done so, they then walk away feeling that they have accomplished something, when in fact, they really done little of substance.
As has been well documented, those who choose to subvert our freedoms and spread bigotry often use Facebook as their channel of communication. While the people who comment on the Hope Facebook page do so only with good intentions, it should always be remembered that everything there is unverified and unconfirmed. So many times, it driven by rumours and statements like “I heard that…” and “They say…”
It is unfortunate that as the Hope Facebook page is public and does not require one to join Facebook, it has become a primary and immediate source of news for our town, when this job should fall on the shoulders of the fifth estate, our community newspaper, The Hope Standard.
While the Hope Standard does have a regular public website, news is not updated as frequently as it should be. The alternative provided is to visit The Hope Standard’s Facebook page or Twitter. Therein a problem is presented, for to read the latest Facebook posts from The Standard, one has to join Facebook.
It is shameful that the newspaper requires a person to join a website simply to be informed and get factual news reports. Do you, The Hope Standard, not realize that some people, such as myself, have no desire to join Facebook? To place news there is a shirking of the responsibilities of the time honoured tradition of journalism.
You must realize that we have no other reliable outlet for news. Radio stations such as Star98 have no desire to report news as playing the latest by Lady Gaga or Cardi B is that matters to them. Television news is all Vancouver-centric. Isn’t it time that you stopped feeling all “warm and fuzzy” inside because you placed news on Facebook and Twitter and began practicing the type of journalism that our Charter of Rights and Freedoms has afforded you the privilege to provide.
Anthony G Pavick