Bravo, NPR.com and The Guardian! Kudos to both these outlets for recognizing the ridiculous haste the media went after this ridiculous story with little in the way of patient fact-checking.
NPR.com says in their “The two-way” blog post ‘Texas Bodies’ Nonstory Is Reminder To News Media: Slow Down:
So what does this all tell us? That even in this age of intense competition and instant reporting, it’s important for news outlets to remember that they should stick to what they know, not what they think on stories like this. And that some seemingly old-fashioned kinds of things — such as attributing information, waiting to hear from multiple sources and being very, very careful about how we phrase our reports — are still important.
With that, we will get off our soap box. Feel free to call us out in the future if we don’t follow our own advice.
The Guardian in the UK, in their article Texas hoax had the media digging their own grave (nice figurative headline):
We are all victimised by our own world views, which modern media have rather mastered pandering to. If you were so ready to swallow the dead-Texans rumour, imagine how you are processing the so-called news that really matters.
I noted in my previous post that the police are required to look into these serious allegations despite the seemingly ridiculous nature of the source. However, this doesn’t mean the media is required to run with then like Olympic relay racers. Slow down! You’d think that the abundance of salacious, sensational and lurid “details” in the original local blurbs would be enough to give editors all over the world some pause, but not so in the voraciously hungry 24-hour news cycle. The beast must be fed! In any case, I’d say lesson learned … until the next time some self-proclaimed superhero claims knowledge of some grisly crime to entice those website and mobile clicks.
In fact, I have this vision that tells me exactly where Blackbeard’s treasure is hidden. It’s on the New Jersey coast, and I’m absolutely certain that The Situation and Snooki killed 60 people and buried them with this secret pirate booty …