Resist the Fake News Tide

Terry Milewski encouraged local governments to push back against the rising tide of fake news and re-emergent authoritarian movements in his UBCM Convention keynote address.

The former CBC broadcast journalist, and their first Middle-East correspondent, reminisced about his early days in radio in the 1970s, working for Williams Lake and Nanaimo radio stations before going on to television news reporting from 52 countries.

Addressing the “Union of BC Megalomaniacs” as “our local government overlords who decide on everything,” (citing the workshops and resolutions addressing energy, housing, cannabis and infrastructure), Milewski’s address centered on the worrisome trend of rising autocratic rule being enabled by the proliferation of fake news.

Milewski bemoaned the polluting of the information stream by misinformation from both the left and the right. “Only 13% of humanity lives in a country with a free press,” he pointed out. “For 11 years in a row, freedom has decreased in the world.”

We live in a post truth age, he stated, which has disrupted “the remorseless advance march of post-war liberal democracy” that was so recently seen as the inevitable goal of our modern era. 

Milewski also touched on the new and enormous power of social media, referencing the recent admission by Facebook concerning its role in perpetuating false news stories.   

Milewski said that democratic governments, including local government, have the ability and responsibility to promote truthfulness. “There is no equivalency between an opinion and a fact,” he said. “Speak up - be eloquent about the primacy of facts.”

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