Facebook photo White Rock council candidate Jeffery Simpson says its time the term ‘fake news’ was dropped from political discourse.

White Rock civic candidate wants end of ‘fake news’ talk

Simpson calls for city – and its critics – to abandon ‘toxic’ terminology

White Rock council candidate Jeffery Simpson says he believes the term ‘fake news’ has become “toxic” – and he’d like it left out of future discourse by both council candidates and city staff.

In an email to Peace Arch News, Simpson particularly referenced a city staff presentation, Addressing Misinformation – made on Sept. 18, 2017 to council’s external communications review sub-committee – which uses the term repeatedly to preface a discussion in which it states “the city is aware of individuals, groups and media who seem to be engaged in misinformation and/or disinformation.”

Simpson argues that, in the context of last week’s shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, in which five journalists died, ‘fake news’ has become unacceptable terminology, and should not be used in a staff presentation that is accessible online.

“Casting journalists as the enemy of the people was always going to end badly,” he wrote. “We should correct misconceptions of our point of view, and lay out the facts, but let’s all stop using the term ‘fake news.’”

Talking to PAN Wednesday, Simpson noted the expression ‘fake news’ has “evolved rapidly since it first entered the public consciousness in 2016.”

“I understand the city’s perception that they want to clear up what they feel is misinformation in the community and the press – but that term has become so loaded that it’s a poor one to use.”

Simpson said that, traditionally, the press has been “one of the pillars of society – it’s what helps keep governments accountable,” and that, even when politicians haven’t agreed with coverage, they have understood the necessity for it.

This has changed, he said, in the current political climate in which politicians have seized on the phrase to discredit any negative story about them – “(U.S. President Donald) Trump is the extreme example.”

While the city has not said the press is the enemy of the people, he noted, “that is a couple of steps along the line.”

He said council opponents aren’t exempt from his criticism, noting critics have been “quick to say ‘fake news’ without grappling with the specifics or seeing the other side of the story.”

“We’ve gotten combative. (‘Fake news’) has become something both sides lob at each other, both in a local context and wherever there are two sides of an issue.”

Whatever members of the public state, Simpson said, he believes politicians “have a higher degree of responsibility” in avoiding such discourse.

He added that while the presentation on ‘fake news’ was created by city staff, “council sets the tone and sets the agenda.”

“This is not a new presentation, but they have a role to play in having (the term) outlawed, now that (it) has become toxic.”

Asked Thursday if the city would consider avoiding the term ‘fake news,’ chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill said: “This is diving into the semantics of misinformation and disinformation. The terminology is not the City’s focus. The City’s goal is to provide accurate, evidence-based information to our residents, and when we see and hear inaccurate and intentionally misleading information circulating in the community, we have a duty to our residents (to) set the record straight.”

Just Posted

Surrey White Rock Ringette Association ‘excited’ about world championships coming to Lower Mainland

Ringette Canada says the sport has reached record registration numbers

Surrey Fire Chief says ‘reverse engineering’ fatal OD victims will help tackle crisis

Partnership between Surrey and Stats Canada a ‘social demography or experiment, of peeling the layers off the onion to understand what the root causes are’

First look at Cloverdale Athletic Park’s future field house

Field house part of $5.8-million revitalization project

‘Born for Greatness’ singer Flandez returns to Surrey for free Tree Lighting Festival

INTERVIEW: A ‘Riverdale’ connection for Richmond-based singer, who has performed here in the past

B.C. government funding 360 affordable homes in Delta

The $36-million investment will build homes for families and seniors in Ladner and Tsawwassen

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

VIDEO: Protected bighorn sheep killed in B.C. Interior

The sheep are considered a species of concern because of their low population in B.C.

Missing-persons list tops 600 in fire-stricken California

Disaster escalates as officials raised the death toll to 63

VIDEO: The definition of a kilogram has officially changed

50-plus countries voted to a ground-breaking overhaul to the international system of measurements

Deer carcasses don’t belong in green bins, says B.C. city

City of Nanaimo issues reminder to residents, saying fur isn’t compostable

Train ride at Minter store not part of this year’s festive fun

Tough decision made to stop seasonal train in its tracks after injury suffered by Brian Minter

B.C. couple helping wildfire evacuees in northern California

A planned holiday has turned into a humanitarian effort for a Penticton couple

Dead whale discovered on B.C. shore

The whale was discovered Friday morning near the BC Ferries terminal

‘This is gangster,’ bait car thief declares on video

Footage from Abbotsford gains attention on social media

Most Read