By Mike Ullery
Rumors. Truth. Lies.
Ah, I'll bet that you are thinking that I am talking about political candidates and elections.
Sorry to disappoint, but in spite of the fact that rumors and lies
are the "norm" from our presidential hopefuls and the truth is the last
thing that you will get during a presidential election year, we are not
talking politics today.
A tragic case this past week involving a series of crashes and the
death of a local man is but the latest example of how rumors,
misinformation and flat out made-up information can cause confusion and
pain to unsuspecting and innocent citizens.
As information from the case became available, we began posting up-to-date official information on our Piqua Daily Call Facebook page.
It should be noted that the information we release has been confirmed
by officials from the police department. That is one of the most
serious issues that I have with this so-called "citizen journalism" that
is becoming so popular with news organizations who are looking to cut
costs as they lose their credibility by trusting unprofessional and
As soon as we posted the first facts regarding the incident, comments began to appear that eluded to drinking, to pedestians being struck, and a host of other rumors that were not only untrue, they had never been mentioned.
I find myself asking, where does this stuff come from? Do people just
make up stuff in their head and decide to type it to see what happens?
It reminds me of a classic scene in the biographical film "Sergeant
York" starring Gary Cooper. In the humorous scene, a company of World
War I "doughboys" is marching down a road as news of York's incredible feat of capturing 132 German soldiers single-handed
begins to surface. The guy in front turns to the guy behind him and
says, "Hey, did you hear that York just captured 132 Germans, all my his
lonesome." By the time the news is passed to the back of the company, Sgt. York and just captured the Kiser and effected the surrender of the whole German army.
Sadly, this is the exact type of thing that happens all too regularly. Mixed in with some of these early highly-exaggerated and wholly untrue posts were a couple that suggested the Piqua Daily Call was wrong in posting information so quickly on a breaking story.
In this age of nearly immediate information, it is true that a risk
is there of a family member reading about it "in the news" before being
properly notified by authorities.
I would like to believe that we are, first and foremost, doing our
job, which is, as I see it, to keep the public informed as to what is
happening in our community and to do so in a manner that everyone who
reads a news story written by our staff, knows that the information
contained in the story is as factual and as up-to-date as we can make
Secondarily, we have become community rumor sepulchers. After posting
the initial news story about the crash and going about gathering
updated information, I ended up feeling obligated to spend the next two
hours on Facebook as a moderator, reading each new post and attempting
to squelch rumors before they could get out of hand.
Incidents such as these are tragic enough, in themselves, without giving life to half-truths, and outright falsehoods.
As a photographer and sometimes-writer for our paper, one of the things that I love about our Piqua Daily Call News Updates Facebook page is the fact that we can keep our followers up-to-date on the latest news. I love the fact that we can get feedback and comments.
The downside of course is that all to often these comments are unsubstantiated and often turn out to be less than factual.
Thank you to all who take the time to follow us, not only in our
printed newspaper but also online. Please, though, when you decide to
comment or post, avoid letting your typing fingers move faster than your