As a journalist in today’s society, social media can often be helpful. I’ve stumbled upon amazing story leads, found events to attend and area photographers to highlight. In many ways social media can make the job easier, but in many ways, it makes it harder.
Over the past few years I have often found myself growing more and more frustrated with social media, not only for the straight up nastiness I have seen, but also because of how fast misinformation and rumors spread to thousands.
I cannot tell you how many times we in the news room have gotten a phone call or email about something that someone saw on social media that ended up having absolutely no truth to it whatsoever.
Just last week, there was a NextDoor post circulating that alleged criminal activity at a homecoming game. The author of the post said things were stolen from the opposing football team’s lockers and strewn about outside. The post said student athletes were missing cell phones, AirPods and clothing and many of their things were vandalized. It didn’t take long for the post to gain lots of traction through shares and comments.
A call to local police department revealed that if any of that did in fact happen, not one person reported it to the authorities. I find it very hard to believe that those allegations did in fact take place, that not one coach, parent, student or bystander called the police to report it.
Another recent example was a post circulating NextDoor and Facebook that claimed that an area apple orchard that has been around since 1966 that was in trouble and neighbors were running the operation in an effort to keep it going. The post said if someone didn’t step up to take the orchard over, it would close.
One of our reporters reached out to the owner who set the record straight and said that is not the case. Although the owner is in fact 91 years old, the orchard is not going out of business and she has a manager and several employees to help run the business.
I’m sure you have heard it time and time again — Don’t believe everything you read on social media, but I will say it again. You cannot believe everything you read on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, NextDoor, TikTok etc. Newspapers have long had standards about what can be published, but there are few rules on social media and virtually anything goes. There is no one vetting those posts and comments to see if they are truthful, and it only takes a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds, for something that may have started off as true to quickly become far from the truth.
I plead you to consider subscribing to your local newspaper. We can’t just print something we heard from a friend of a friend or overheard in the grocery store checkout.
If in the past few weeks you have read something in this paper that was beneficial to your family or life in our community, I am asking you to subscribe today. Fill out the envelope that was in our newspaper, subscribe online at presspubs.com, or call our office at 651-407-1200.
Shannon Granholm is the Lead Editor at Press Publications.