Difficult Conversations – Fake News
After the volcanic eruption in St Vincent, the Government held a news conference on 11 April 2021, and declared that fake news was killing us. The Government explained that the Commissioner of Police will be asked follow-up on fake news, since it can lead to a loss of life.
I expected the press to ask some questions about this new path on which Barbados is being directed. But the Government charmed the media present by giving them an honorary non-fake news title. It seems that the media did not want to risk having this new title taken away.
At the news conference, the public was advised to repeatedly sweep the ash from their roofs. I strongly advised against this, noting foreseen death from falling off a slippery ladder. Last week, someone died from falling off a ladder while trying to follow the advice. To whom should the Commissioner of Police be sent?
FAKE NEWS CAREERS.
Politicians normally make a career out of falsely accusing their political opponents – the ultimate fake news. When they form a government, they normally create fake news to avoid disclosing inconvenient information.
Fake news is information that is provably false. All news media, without exception, spread fake news. Some do it unintentionally, and then issue corrections once they become aware of their errors. Others intentionally spread what they know to be false, in service to their political party.
An independent press will allow all evidence-based ideas to contend, so that the truth may be revealed by discussing an exchange of ideas.
BARBADOS NEWS MEDIA.
Barbados’ news media have a mix of responses to fake news. A few of them allow evidence-based discussions. This allows the public to see which arguments are supported by the evidence, and which ones are based on speculation. The remainder only allow the views of their political party on politically sensitive topics.
When media outlets spread obvious fake news, and block evidence-based discussions that can expose fake news as false, then it prompts citizens to ask, why. Once people try to answer that ‘why’ question, they risk having their suggestions labelled conspiracy theories.
DISSERVICE TO OUR YOUTH.
The fear of discussing issues is doing the next generation of Barbadians a grave disservice. They need to witness an honest discussion of ideas, not a persecution of those brave enough to offer different explanations of the evidence.
Why are our media preventing the next generation of Barbadians from benefiting from evidence-based discussions? In countries like North Korea, their media persons must fearfully promote fake news as truth, to avoid being executed. That may be a valid excuse for promoting fake news. So, what is Barbados’ news media’s excuse?