Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: What Trump’s deportation policy means for Portland; Maine Magazine’s co-founder left the company; and until Facebook addresses its fake news problem, I argue it’s our collective responsibility to fix it.
What we’re talking about
Jake reports on whether the city would cooperate if Trump makes good on his recent threat to deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records:
If President-elect Donald Trump follows through on his plan to deport the millions of undocumented immigrants he claims have criminal records, Portland’s policy is to cooperate.
Although Maine’s largest city historically has been welcoming to immigrants and has taken steps to protect them, it lacks the policies of so-called sanctuary cities. Since the election, despite Trump’s threat to cut off federal funding, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other sanctuary cities have stood by their policy to guard immigrants from expulsion by limiting cooperation with federal authorities — even to the point of refusing requests to hold undocumented inmates in jail.
Portland has no such policy, and has no plans to enact one.
“Portland is not a sanctuary city,” said city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin. City “law enforcement personnel are to cooperate with federal officials, which is contrary to what a sanctuary city would do.”
The city code bars municipal employees — including police — from asking someone about his or her immigration status unless required by law. But the regulation makes exception for cases in which an employee has “reasonable suspicion” someone has committed a felony or has returned to the United States after being deported. And it instructs local law enforcement to work with with agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In other news
How a Trump presidency could affect life in Maine — Christopher Cousins reports: “A change in leadership — especially to a president who won with promises to upset or obliterate political norms — is bound to create ripples that reach every corner of the land. In Maine, some of those ripples will splash the State House, doctors’ offices and the North Woods.”
ACLU seeks probe of Maine transgender teen inmate’s death — The Department of Corrections is not saying much about the death of a transgender teen at Long Creek Youth Development Center. Beth Brogan reports:
In a letter dated Thursday but released Monday morning, officials from GLAD Legal Advocates & Defenders and the ACLU Maine said the death “raises urgent, substantial concerns about the conditions, policies, patterns and practices at Long Creek and the health, safety and well-being of transgender, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth.”
Maine Magazine co-founder steps down — Maine Media Collective sure knows how to bury a lede. On Friday, the publisher of Maine Magazine, Maine Home and Design and Old Port Magazine, released a 10-year anniversary press release touting the Portland-based company’s milestones — with just a footnote on the person that played a key role getting them there: Editor in Chief Susan Grisanti. The co-founder abruptly left the magazine earlier this month and little has been said. Kathleen Pierce broke the news here.
The Big Idea
On Facebook, we’re all editors now — Since nearly half of all Americans get their news from Facebook, and since the company has so far lacked the courage and will to do something meaningful about the spread of fake news, it’s on all of us to make the internet a better place.
Think about it: Facebook is basically the world’s largest distributed news organization. It claims to have 1.18 billion daily active users across the globe. All those people can share links within their networks, and beyond, which allows fake stories like this one to spread.
Each of us, then, is an editor.
We each have the power to make the internet — and therefore, the world — a kinder, more thoughtful and more intelligent place.
But to do that, we each need to start acting like journalists: That means checking the validity of a source before sharing (reporting) it, and clicking through a link to check the date and see if it’s truly new. (True story: Every few months, the obituary of actor James Garner pops up on the BDN’s real-time analytics dashboard, buoyed by thousands of people suddenly discovering it on Facebook. He died in 2014.) Here in Portland, you may have seen links circulating that seem too crazy to be true. That’s because they are. Katy Perry is not moving here, and the latest “Star Wars” movie is not being filmed nearby.
The stakes are high: The proliferation of bad information on the social network arguably played a hand in the outcome of the latest election. Whether you believe that or not, it’s hard to argue that the site has not become a flaming landfill of partisan vitriol.
Over the past weekend, I deactivated my account. It had been a long week. The takes were getting hotter and the links to bogus stories were getting more frequent. I found myself longing for the social network’s more insipid early years — when it was mostly a public bulletin board for baby and brunch photos.
I spent the weekend in the woods, hiking, reading a book and watching bad movies. I thought really hard about staying off Facebook, for good.
But the world needs more journalists, not fewer. It needs more people who can tell the difference between partisan blogs and fake links. It needs people who are willing to exercise judgment before pushing another little bite of (maybe not-true) news out into the world.
So I’ll stick around. So should you. As long as Facebook refuses to do its job, it will need its users to.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at email@example.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.
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