AT RANDOM: Consider the source

I have to commend a certain actor known for his role as the socially inept but brilliant sleuth Sherlock Holmes

I have to commend a certain actor known for his role as the socially inept but brilliant sleuth Sherlock Holmes. No, not the original Sherlock, Basil Rathbone, or Robert Downey  Jr., who has appeared in those recent frenetic Sherlock films, but the tall, distinguished and wonderfully named British thespian Benedict Cumberbatch.

I want to congratulate this man who I will likely never meet because of what he did the other day to announce his upcoming nuptials.

Forgoing the now usual conventions of announcing a major event on social media, he chose to place a small advertisement in The Times – yes, a newspaper.

And guess what? The ad, or more apt, the announcement, earned its fair share of notice around the world – without trolls, those bitter and twisted people who like to write nasty comments on social media.

Could this possibly mean that newspapers are still relevant? Egad, Watson, turn the page!

When others would beg to differ, saying the new media is all on screen, I believe there are those out there that prefer the feel of paper bristling through their fingers. But it’s not just the physical product of what a newspaper presents, but the way the news unfolds, and what should be considered a reliable source.

Nowadays, the message is told by a medium that is riddled with untrustworthy sources. What I mean is that we are the ones that are reading what is being posted on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, from uncredited sources or as  not credible as Joe Blow, Chatty Jill and the like and thinking they are reliable.

I have news for you. They are not.

I don’t think any of these people learned about slander or libel laws in journalism school. That a person should be assumed not guilty until his/her crime is proven in a court of law, or that unnamed sources should not be used except in extreme cases such as personal safety, such as what The Toronto Star did in the case of those woman alleging Jian Ghomeshi of abuse.

Speaking of that specific news story, most people were ready to be lawyer, judge and jury, writing their opinions on Twitter and Facebook, and that includes Ghomeshi himself, before an investigation was even started.

It seems there is a trend now to skip over the proper procedures that news gatherers are supposed to abide by. We’re all guilty of assuming someone is guilty before the trial, and when there’s mounting evidence of supposed wrongdoing, as in Ghomeshi’s case, then it’s understandable. What troubles me is where we are getting that news, and that opinion.

I’ve read some things on Facebook that have made me seethe inside. And then I look at the source,  Joe “The Troll” Blow, spouting off at the mouth, that is his keyboard, on something he has not done his research on.

The soapbox is definitely not what it used to be. There’s a reason that the community bastion of opinion in a newspaper is called a Letter to the Editor. Letters are edited for slander, libel, taste, meaning, brevity, etc. Some may call that censoring, I call it due diligence.

It’s why I still believe, despite my calling in life, that a newspaper is still the best way to share opinion, and make those notable announcements.

There’s a middle man or woman that will stop the onslaught of bullying, name calling, and general offence, and that includes on the newspaper’s online product. That way, we, the people, can try to keep the peace and use our judgement when reading or commenting on someone’s life, unless you want to spout a tirade on your own Facebook page. Then have fun with that.

I guess it comes down to who do you trust?

I gather Mr. Cumberbatch used his little newspaper ad as a way to make his happy, personal statement about his engagement as a way to forgo the frenzied fuss that would have come out of a social media status, or Tweet.

I say, good deduction, Mr. Holmes.



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