Northwest Territories residents affected by lack of news as wildfires persist
Residents of the Northwest Territories are likely among the first Canadians to feel the full effects of the news vacuum now in place on Facebook as they flee their home communities under threat of wildfire.
Industry observers say the regional media landscape was barren long before Meta, Facebook's parent company, announced plans to pull Canadian content from its platforms and the current situation merely highlights a dearth of local news coverage and resources.
Jeffrey Dvorkin, former director of the journalism program at the University of Toronto, says local news, which was the lifeblood of communities, has been massively damaged.
The danger here, he says, is that people will be forced to rely on information that cannot always be verified.
Dvorkin says news organizations play an important role in verifying information that is especially missed in times of emergencies.
Nearly 20-thousand Yellowknife residents and two nearby First Nations have been ordered to be out by noon today while crews battle more than 200 blazes in the Northwest Territories.
Dwayne Winseck, professor of communication and media studies at Carleton University, says up to half of Canadians use social media or Google as a pathway to news.
He says an emergency situation such as the fires in the Northwest Territories underscores the importance of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in disseminating news.