We are all familiar with the term “Fake News.” The term has become “famous” (or infamous?) for the most part at the national level. Whether you appreciate the term or not, fake news and disinformation have widened the chasm in our national and local political dialog. For doubters of traditional media, fake news adds fuel to the fire. For believers of traditional media, social media news is suspect.
I have tried to stay out of that whole discussion, and so far have been successful. Most of our local news reporting is factual and credit is due to My Edmonds News, The Daily Herald and The Beacon.
However, there are occasions when local postings on social media are very misleading, or at times, simply wrong. I will raise two prime examples of information posted on social media that was simply wrong, yet had a negative impact on city government and community engagement.
You may recall over the past year or so the efforts of many cities across the nation that self-identified as a “sanctuary cities” — including Seattle. After considerable discussion and realizing the potential down side of potentially not receiving Federal funding, our City Council chose not to identify Edmonds as a “sanctuary city,” but rather, a “safe city” — which committed to the priority of keeping all citizens safe and respected, while not running the risk of a potential loss of funding.
Yet, a few days later, while commenting on a social media site, a writer identified several larger national cities that were sanctuary cities and included Edmonds in the list! Some of the postings after the original posting drew scathing comments regarding our city council’s “position.” It was simply incorrect information, which caused a stir. And it was simply wrong!
A more recent example was a social media posting that was a call to action to “pack” the council meeting on Jan.16 because of the claim that the council would be taking up the issue of providing a “safe injection site.” Once again, following the original posting were troubling comments based upon an untrue “fact”! Simply wrong! In fact the council does not have an item on the Jan. 16 agenda or any extended agenda addressing that issue. Again, passing along fake news and misinformation causes a stir without facts to back the statement.
In this era of fake news and misinformation, it has become incumbent on us consumers of both traditional media and social media to take the extra step to find out whether a “fact” is true or not. That can take the form of a quick internet search to verify information or claimed news, or with regard to city business one can simply go to the City of Edmonds website to get current or future information on city council agendas or other current information. We can even provide you with the minutes or other information related to a particular meeting by simply, contacting the City Clerk’s office… or contacting a councilmember… or contacting my office. We will all be more than happy to turn around any “fake news” for you and provide you with the “real story.”
— By Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling