For two years, Black Press Media community journalists have chronicled a deadly global-wide virus in the most challenging and vital way: from the local perspective of the readers we serve.
We have written stories about the negative – families being separated amid COVID outbreaks, or small businesses forced to close – and the hopeful – like drive-by birthday parties, and people cheering outside a hospital to support health care workers. We have carefully and accurately reported the pandemic-related directives of provincial and national health care experts and authorities. We have also reflected public opinion opposing some of those measures.
We have been, and continue to be, on the front lines in what has become a complicated, chaotic and unsettling “new normal” that deeply affects all of us. We too have elderly parents shuttered inside care homes, and face the same travel restrictions preventing visits with families and friends back home.
We too miss the days of being able to socialize freely.
Being a community journalist is a responsibility none of us carries lightly – it’s a badge of service we wear with pride. But in some of these spaces, particularly Facebook, we’ve faced a disturbing degradation of constructive dialogue, increasingly dominated by misinformation, hate, conspiracy and deeply hurtful commentary.
The hateful rhetoric has impacted readers, and it has impacted our journalists.
Ultimately, the personal well-being and safety of our journalists is of paramount concern to Black Press Media.
Going forward, we will make sound decisions about providing social media space for commenting while we continue reporting on the pandemic.
Starting today, Facebook commenting on stories about the ongoing pandemic will be turned off when shared to that platform. Readers can continue to be engaged online on the other stories that reflect the heart of our communities.
We hope as a society we can find a pathway forward that incorporates respectful and civil discourse around the pandemic, particularly in the digital world.
In the meantime, our commitment to bring the important stories that matter most to you locally remains unfettered.
– Rick O’Connor, CEO
– Randy Blair, COO
– Josh O’Connor, COO
– Lorie Williston, President BC North
– Mary Kemmis, Vice-President BC North
– Andrew Franklin, Vice-President Digital Operations
– Robin Clarke, Vice-President Human Resources
– Andrew Holota, Editorial Director
– Ashley Wadhwani, Digital Content Editor