Thanks entirely to Donald Trump, ‘fake news’ no longer means a deliberate hoax story published with the intent to mislead readers.
‘Fake news’ now simply means the truth.
The awkward truth. Or, in other words, easily-provable facts, or documented quotes, that contradict The Dear Leader. ‘Fake, fake, fake’.
As George Orwell put it: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” This new definition of ‘fake news’ is sweeping the globe, enabling those in power – whether they are a politician, developer, or even a church – to do or say something controversial, and then blame the media once that controversial thing causes controversy.
I can’t think of a better local example than St John’s Anglican Church at Camden, which is considering selling a part of its hilltop heritage precinct. Fact.
As the Advertiser reported, it has already got the green light from Sydney Anglican Diocese to sell that land – in between the historic church and historic rectory. Fact.
People from the church have publicly argued in favour of the land sale. Fact.
This has created anger in our community, from a long list of Facebook comments, to respected Camden historians, to NSW National Trust president Dr Clive Lucas, and Annette Macarthur-Onslow – descended from the family who actually gifted the hilltop site to the church in the first place. Fact.
But apparently we’re now fake news – or “trash”, as one parishioner told our reporter on her way in to pray.
The Advertiser’s coverage has also been described by various church members as “outrageous”, and “panic”, and a non-story or “blown out of proportion”.
Parishioner John Ryan, a long-time friend who last year ran as a Liberal candidate for Camden Council, and has been at the forefront of defending a land sale, is now criticising the integrity of the Advertiser for suggesting a land sale is on the cards.
“The church is not selling the land,” John Ryan told us.
“All we’re doing is investigating the possibility of selling the land.”
Hmmm. Just like the state government wasn’t actually selling the land at Hurlstone when the media first heard about it, all it was doing was investigating the possibility of selling the land.
Just like the developers who are proposing 5000 homes for Menangle village, aren’t building McMansions tomorrow, they’re just investigating the possibility of building McMansions.
The problem is, after 30 years in the local media, I know how this works. If the public doesn’t speak out in protest early, the developers and decision-makers use that as justification that their plan has “broad community support”. I’ve seen it happen countless times. And, even if the public does speak out early, it still has an almighty battle on its hands. Who can stand in the way when there’s a dollar to be made.
As for us being “trash”, I can do no better than quote well-known Anglican chaplain John Bunyan (who is opposed to the church land sale) and he penned: “If not everything reported in the Advertiser is true, it would be good to know exactly which statements are incorrect, and to provide evidence for that.”
Unless, to quote Dennis Denuto of The Castle fame, it’s just the vibe. And, aah…no that’s it…it’s the vibe.
Wouldn't a more accurate description of “outrageous” be a local newspaper that censored the public protests, and refused to report on the matter until after the church had already done a deal with a developer?
Or has the definition of that word changed too?