We are well served in East Yorkshire by a good regional news media, both in print, and on radio and television, but there is a growing concern internationally about ‘fake news’.
Generally, it is content intended to misinform or influence the recipient and may be wholly fabricated or, more likely, a mix of both fact and fiction.
Parliamentary research reveals that fake news is frequently created for financial or politically motivated reasons.
It is often launched or amplified by social media, where users share webpage links and other information without verification.
Academics have found that fake news was used extensively during both the US and French Presidential elections and may have been used at the last UK General Election.
Security services are now voicing concerns about foreign interference in domestic policies through the spread of disinformation and the US Senate is already investigating claims that Russia ran a fake news campaign during the US Presidential election.
Alarmingly, recent research shows that people are more likely to believe a claim, even if it is false and contradicts their own prior knowledge, if it is just repeated often and a recent Ofcom report showed that 21% of adults think that if a website has been listed by a search engine, then it will provide accurate unbiased information.
Here in the UK, Parliament has not introduced any law for deterring fake news, but this is something that may have to change.
We have just nicely undergone a defective ritual.
At the end of October, our country changed the clocks by putting them back one hour, thereby plunging us all into darkness from mid-afternoon.
A growing number of politicians (me included) want to see our clocks put forward an extra hour all year round and move to a system of Single/Double Summer Time (SDST).
Such a move would bring our waking hours more into line with the hours of daylight, rather than as now, where daylight is wasted early morning, when most of us are still asleep.
Putting our clocks forward by an extra hour would not only result in a gain of extra daylight in summer; we would also reduce our national energy consumption, boost tourism and cut road accidents. No change is planned at present but we should give it a try.
On this issue, as on many others, Sir Winston Churchill got it right.
Churchill predicted more daylight hours would ‘enlarge the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country’.