Journalists know one thing for certain — readers can handle the truth.
The first principle of journalism is to seek truth and report it — to put the facts into the hands of people, so they know what is really going on.
This task has never been more important as Canadians cope with an enduring pandemic that is affecting every aspect of our lives.
To get the information they need, Canadians have turned to sources they trust. More than half say they have relied on local, national, and international news outlets as a main source of information about COVID-19.
Each year we mark National Newspaper Week by highlighting the critical role that newspapers play in our active and healthy democracy. This year we recognize the efforts of newspapers to keep Canadians abreast of the latest developments on COVID-19.
Digitally and in printed editions, dedicated newspaper journalists have chronicled the pandemic day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. They have done this for audiences with an insatiable appetite for facts, who have pushed overall readership to levels not seen in modern memory.
And they have done it while facing their own worries: about their personal health, their families, and even about whether they would have a job as newspapers struggle to stay alive after unprecedented drops in advertising revenues.
Journalists took pay cuts, they worked at home, they asked questions of politicians sitting in empty rooms, they took pictures from sidewalks of people standing at their front windows. Some newspapers suspended publication. Some closed for good.
Through it all, newspaper journalists have been committed to serving their readers, to publishing the truth, to performing what is recognized as an essential public service.
There is a flood of misinformation about COVID-19. Science-based recommendations from medical experts are often muffled by a barrage of half-baked advice, sketchy remedies, and misguided theories. The secretary general of the United Nations has called it a “pandemic of misinformation”.
The antidote to this is what Canadian newspapers do every day: seek truth and report it. You can depend on them to fulfill this important role today, tomorrow, and always. So let’s celebrate newspapers and the people behind them.
Bob Cox is Publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press.