Opinion

EDITORIAL: Rumour has it…

There’s a fine line between being in the know and simply grinding the rumour mills – and in this era of social-network posts and instantaneous tweets and texts, that line is becoming easier and easier to cross.

Even staid, sober publications like this one are not immune from following up on speculation that may, or may not, be based on solid information.

Thus it was that when we recently inquired of Kevin Falcon – erstwhile BC Liberal MLA, government minister and one-time leadership hopeful – whether he was contemplating running for federal office, the Ocean Park resident could only respond with a chuckle.

“So far the rumours I’ve heard about me is that I’m running for mayor of Surrey, mayor of Vancouver or federal office,” he laughed this week. “Despite all those rumours, I’m doing none of the above.”

For the record, Falcon, recently appointed an honorary director of the Surrey Board of Trade, says he is working “happily in the private sector” as executive vice-president of Anthem Capital and “very excited to continue doing so.”

Similarly, feverish reports in the Vancouver media that Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts was being courted by the Conservatives to run federally in South Surrey-White Rock came as news to electoral district association president Jerry Presley.

“I haven’t heard yet, and normally I’d be the first,” he told us.

It used to be said that “rumours are flying.” In the 21st century they seem to have achieved supersonic speed, as our fundamental “need to know” seems in constant collision with our apparent need to be “in the know.”

Even major news networks have stumbled in recent years in their rush to hurtle headlong at a headline. Incorrect and misleading information is not only worthless to informed opinion – it carries untold dangers with it.

Rumours – and our willingness to give credence to them – have been responsible for fear, chaos and even death. Many years ago, Orson Welles exposed the limitations of the radio technology of his time with an infamous ‘fake’ broadcast of a Martian landing that caused thousands to panic.

For those who champion the instantaneous media of our own era, some caution and sober thought may be in order.

Speed of communication means little without accuracy. It doesn’t matter how fast we’re in the know, if, in the final analysis, we know nothing.

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