Not surprisingly, the Methow Valley News hears occasional criticism of its COVID coverage, mostly of the “not telling the real story” variety. So, nearly two years into the coronavirus crisis, it seems like we must reiterate that our only commitment is to truth, facts, accuracy, reality, science and the greater good of a community that requires real news presented with authority.
That’s what we’ve done, and will continue to do. Our coverage has been thorough and exemplary, relying on the best available sourcing from people who actually know what they are talking about. We have continued to cover local events, developments and the health care challenges throughout the pandemic’s duration, as well as consequences that have stressed our systems and our civility. We don’t shy away from the toughest parts of the story.
We also don’t pollute that coverage with dangerous misinformation, even though some misguided people think we should.
There is no “telling the other side of the story” when it comes to COVID. As with the Holocaust, there can be no “other side.” There is only truth — about the overwhelmingly positive results from vaccinations, mandates and social distancing. Truth about any of these things is not what you will get from the self-aggrandizing politicians, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theorists, delusional anti-government extremists and opportunistic liars who prosper by exploiting the gullible and vulnerable.
There are people who are closed-minded to science who want us to be open-minded to lunacy. We are not. Only reliance on trustworthy sources and consistent documentation can inform responsible news reporting. That is our standard. The COVID-coverage critics have no standards. They’ll believe and promulgate anything, without proof, evidence or any shred of credibility. This newspaper will not provide them with a cloak of respectability.
We rely on the experts, who are consistently giving us the best information, even as the pandemic, its prevention and its treatment continue to evolve. For perspective, this has all happened in an incredibly short time. It’s a constantly moving story, and anything that detracts from the veracity of what’s happening is a danger to us all.
The mainstream media have, out of a traditional sense of fairness, clung too long to the notion of “false equivalency.” That is, if 9,999 scientists say that climate change is real and imminently threatens all life on earth, the media must track down the one person who disagrees to provide “balance.” That’s not balance. It’s giving life to lies and harmful deception. Five million pandemic deaths do not equate to a handful of deaths from breakthrough infections. The Methow Valley News will not be part of false equivalency.
It’s a challenging time to be in the truth business, when so many would have you believe balderdash. Worse, the anti-truth groundlings are turning increasingly vile and violent in their assaults on those providing the true story — health care providers to a large extent, and also news media sources scrambling to stay ahead of a tsunami of falsehoods. The anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-mandate crowd, absent sanity, reason or decency on their side, now thinks it is OK to physically attack people who espouse the truth.
We have recently been in correspondence with the publisher/editor of a small weekly newspaper in another part of the country — for purposes of confidentiality, we won’t reveal where except to note that it is in an exceptionally “red” state — who is battling the forces of deceit with professionalism and persistence, at a cost.
“I have been reporting for 36 years and I have never seen such craziness among people I have known for decades,” the publisher/editor said in a communication. “Everything you see in the national scene aimed at the press is now being aimed at our small newspapers. And I am intimidated. … And now every time I write what I believe, I have to make a calculus: Is it worth the s***storm I will face for giving facts and calling out this BS? I have never faced such a challenge. I am being debased with denouncements from ignorant people who hate me for reporting truthfully. … At times I am concerned for my safety. … I have never been so stressed, so disillusioned with humanity.”
While the Methow Valley community has been overwhelmingly supportive of the News, we sympathize and empathize with this colleague and others elsewhere who stand firm for the truth and worry that their livelihoods, and perhaps their lives, are at risk for it. The forces of fear, hate, violence and falsity are hard at work everywhere. They will find an implacable foe in the Methow Valley News.