By Ashley Lodato

The other day I was reading the editorial in the Methow Valley News — titled “Headlines we’d like to see in 2017” (think “Another Methow Valley summer without wildfires” and “All leaks repaired and paid for at Wagner Memorial Pool”) — and a snarky retort popped into my head.

“If you’d like to see those headlines,” I thought, “just print them. You’re the editor and you own the paper.”

But of course that’s not really what I would like to see happen; nor would I expect that from the Methow Valley News. Unfortunately, not all news sources are this scrupulous.

It’s hard these days, separating truth in journalism from things simply published, circulated and then accepted as truth. But it’s something, regrettably, that we all need to get better about recognizing, and then refusing to perpetuate through the social media outlets and conversations that we participate in.

We exist in what some are calling a post-truth world — one in which a facade of legitimate journalism is often convincing enough to pass as substantiated content. But in an environment where policies are introduced in 140 or fewer characters, and anybody with an Internet connection can publicize opinion as fact, it’s vital that we stay vigilant, approaching anything but the most trusted news sources with skepticism.

Words have the power to influence lives in so many ways. Twisp River poet and playwright Cindy Williams Gutierrez reminds me of this when she talks about her connection to William Stafford’s Methow River poems. Cindy and her now-husband came to the Methow for a winter getaway six months before their wedding in 2000. In the Trail’s End Bookstore, Cindy saw a chapbook of Stafford’s poems that connected her love of poetry with her husband’s love of rivers (he’s a fly fisherman). They bought every copy the bookstore had and gave them as gifts to their wedding party, and over the following 15 years Cindy became inspired by Stafford’s life and work, teaching his poems to youth and adults and honoring him with an original play called “Words That Burn” (which will be performed in the Methow over Memorial Day weekend).

Nearly two decades later, Cindy remains immersed in Stafford’s work, and is the mastermind behind the reading that will be held on Thursday (Jan. 12) evening at Trail’s End from 5-6:30 p.m. Cindy, as well as a handful of other local poets, will read an original poem and one of Stafford’s poems. The community is invited to attend this free event.


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