“What is the source of that information?”

Get used to asking yourself that question. Looking past the intermediary to the original context of the news is an invaluable business skill to acquire.

The more important the information, the higher the stakes – and the greater the likelihood that there’ll be scads of misinformation flying across the Internet.

The spread of false information during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, has been rivaled only by the spread of the disease itself. The novel coronavirus has brought with it what the United Nations has called an “infodemic” that’s putting public health at risk. The World Health Organization has even set up its own myth-busting website to swat down counterfactual claims.

The solution? Go directly to the source. Stick to the facts.

Don’t make decisions based on memes shared on Facebook or even on information you get from traditional media sources, which may be skewing and/or sensationalizing the news. Starved for clicks, many media outlets craft headlines written solely to attract curious eyes.

To make accurate business decisions that protect employee safety and provide for business longevity in these crazy times, Whatcom County business leaders need accurate information and good, solid data.

But if social and traditional media don’t proffer reliable info, where should business leaders go for the information they need to make wise decisions?

To the source.

Instead of reading a news article or broadcast that summarizes a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, go directly to the CDC website and read the report. Use the data and details they provide, blended with your industry and business knowledge, to make decisions.

A few more examples: Whatcom County business owners needing information about financial support from the government during a crisis can go directly to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website. Individuals wondering about the plans for reopening the state economy can visit Gov. Inslee’s website or check out the federal reopening guidelines from the White House.

In the post-COVID world, the need for reliable data won’t wane. Cultivating the ability to cut through the clutter and identify good sources of information on a variety of topics — whether it’s agriculture, public policy, energy conservation, job growth or a thousand other topics of critical importance to Whatcom County business owners — will serve you well.