Tom Durkin: Don’t kill the messenger
“… and then they came for the journalists. After that, we don’t know what happened.” – sign at a protest rally
Although I am presently writing as an op-ed columnist, I’ve spent most of my career as reporter. Let’s talk about that.
As a reporter, my job is not to tell you what you want to hear.
My job is to tell you what happened as fairly and accurately as I can.
If you don’t like it, that’s not my fault. If you don’t like it, that doesn’t change what happened. If you don’t like it, that doesn’t mean I lied.
Just because you don’t like what I report doesn’t make it fake news.
Hell, half the time, even I don’t like what I’m reporting.
Killing the messenger of news you don’t like won’t change the facts. You just won’t know what the facts are anymore. This makes you easy prey for people who would mislead you with “information” that might kill you.
A PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT
Take, for instance, a journalistic travesty called The Covid Times of Nevada County. This periodic, obfuscating tabloid of pseudoscienific disinformation and misinformation denies the dangers of COVID-19 and grossly distorts the risk of vaccines. It has been distributed free in the past year by local businesses that should know better.
If this were a legitimate publication, The Covid Times would have a “glory box” revealing who publishes it and how to contact them. Nothing in that paper credits who is responsible. A phone number is provided, but it’s been disconnected.
A website displayed prominently as an information source on the front page of the May issue leads to GreenMedInfo, a site that insists you must use its search engine as a condition to access the site. That’s a showstopper for me right there.
A report from McGill University by Jonathan Jarry, MSc, explains why GreenMedInfo makes you use its search engine: The GreenMedInfo search engine is a “colossal exercise in cherry picking.”
For instance, Jarry got 66 hits when he searched for “homeopathy allergic rhinitis” on PubMed, a widely respected aggregator of scientific research. The same search on GreenMedInfo provided only five hits, all in favor of homeopathy.
According to Jarry, the majority of scientific research declares homeopathy to be “a pseudoscientific dilution-based system of belief.” (As one homeopathic practitioner once told me, “It only works if you think it does.”)
Jarry continued: “GreenMedInfo is a highly selective slice of the biomedical literature, biased toward positive results for natural ingredients and spun to make bad studies look better.”
Some people will get sick and possibly die if they choose to believe real fake news like The Covid Times over legitimate news sources like The Union.
Regardless of whether you like the real news or not, National Public Radio reported July 16: “More than 99% of recent deaths were among the unvaccinated.”
The Covid Times is a threat to public health. Denying the proved efficacy of the vaccine and over-emphasizing the ultra-low risks — not to mention outright lying — is the moral equivalent of yelling “Fire!” in a theater.
I’m calling on all businesses who care about their customers to cease and desist distributing this clear and present danger to our community safety.
Conspiracy theorists tell me to “do your research.” I just did.
Kill the messenger at your own risk.
HOUSING NOW AND WHEN
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
Last month, I discussed the idea of housing homeless people right here and right now. A few key people have answered the call action in the face the growing homeless crisis in Nevada County.
We are safely housing a slow trickle of people right now, especially families with children. We are also working on another proof of concept project.
It’s not time yet to disclose details. Let’s wait to see how real this is. We are operating on the premise that it is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission.
We are neither the government nor a nonprofit. (By the way and for the record, this has nothing to do with the Nevada County Continuum of Care Shelter Committee. I am a member of the committee, but I’ve gone rogue.)
We’re just folks working to assist our homeless brothers and sisters, doing what we can with what we have. Maybe we can show city and county officials how they can take some responsibility for housing their own citizens.
Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada County. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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An older friend I made when I began here in 2016 called the other day to talk about the paper. I hadn’t heard from her in awhile and, well, I’ve been here just long enough…