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  • Writer's pictureThe Low Down

Fact check the letters

The Editor,

I believe that the Letter to the Editor section in a newspaper is a bastion of free speech. However, while letter writers are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts. Like Trump's misleading claims about the coronavirus, Mr. Scapillato doesn’t bother with the facts when it comes to global warming. He is a thinly-veiled climate change skeptic who does not – or cannot – support his stance with specifics, or examples, or science findings. Instead, he twists the responses of his challengers.

My concern is not so much with this letter writer. He is not likely to be persuaded by the suffering of tens of thousands in the developing world (and increasingly now in the developed world). Nor is he likely to be swayed from his hard-line position by the millions of concerned people worldwide who are banding together to confront this existential crisis.

My worry is that letters like these, which promulgate misinformation about global warming and efforts to mitigate its destructive effects, are not fact-checked the way stories in other parts of the paper are.

If a letter writer were to suggest, for example, that COVID is just like the flu or that white supremacy doesn't exist in Canada, would The Low Down publish such a claim? Where is the line drawn in a newspaper between fact, falsehood and opinion?

Just as social media are starting to be held to account for the misinformation and disinformation they allow on their platforms, traditional media should also have to answer for what they publish, even if it comes from a reader not a reporter. I understand that controversy sells papers, but that should not mean that anything goes.

Truth still matters.

Paula Halpin

Masham, QC


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