Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I am 'Fake News'

I am Fake News.

Or so my critics would have you believe.

This is what it's like working in the social drenched atmosphere of journalism these days.

Yesterday we posted on our website a story on the Temple student who was fatally shot after an altercation with police in Miami.

AP puts a headline on its stories that very often gets copied over when the story isposted on DelcoTimes.com.

This is what the headline on the story said:

Temple University student killed by police after car crashes.

Technically, it's accurate. But after reviewing the story it's pretty clear there was a lot more going on here than that headline portrays. The woman, Cariann Hithon, of Bowie, Md., had crashed her car into several cars along Miami's famous South Beach area. Hithon apparently was in South Florida to celebrate her 22nd birthday. When a crowd gathered around the car, it took off again, striking a police officer. That's when another officer fired three shots into the car.

The entire incident is now under invetigation.

When the story got posted to our DelcoTimes Facebook page, the reaction was immediate - and harsh.

But it was the tone of many of the comments that struck me.

It did not take long for several people to accuse us of practicing "fake news."

Yes, this is what it is like working in journalism today.

Every person with a phone or tablet is a publisher.

That is now part and parcel of what we do. And I have no problem with that. I say the more the merrier.

But if you think that President Trump's insistence on anything that does not portray him in a positive light is "fake news" does not trickle down to your local newspaper, I am here to tell you different.

Let's get this straight.

That initial report was not "fake news."

Was the headline not nearly as accurate as it should have been?

You bet.

That's why I changed it.

You read it right.

As it turns out, I was not in the office yesterday.

But being the glutton for punishment that I am, I still manage email and check our social media accounts.

When I saw that the story on the Temple student was blowing up on our Facebook page, I reviewed the story - and the headline.

I changed it - and I posted a note on the Facebook page.

That did not stop the torrent of negative comments, all with the same tenet: We shape the news to fit our liberal agenda. We purposely crafted that headline to emphasize the actions of police in using deadly force, instead of the actions of the woman that precipitated the incident. We are looking as we always do to foment racial strife. We are anti-police.

"Please stop writing misleading headlines."

"Slanted and misleading headlines are just one of the multitude of reasons no one buys your paper anymore." In short, we are practicing "fake news."

I noticed something else in the stream of invective aimed at the newspaper. People took us to task for not summarizing all the facts of the case, but had no issue with jumping to conclusions as to what was happening on that Miami street. The fact is we don't know - and may never know why that woman did what she did.

"Temple student runs over officer," is how one reader believes the story should have been headlined. I suppose that is accurate as well.

"Not your twisted words of hate. All you are doing is causing more hate towards our police officers."

"Daily Times trying to be like the big anti-police papers and put out headlines that make cops the bad guys."

Funny, I thought we have been going out of our way the past few years to do stories that put cops in a positive light.

I consistently offer them support with our Saturday "Laurels" as well as on our editorial page.

Doesn't matter.

We're anti-police.

And "Fake News." There's a big difference between a story you don't like, or even one you don't agree with, and "fake news."

I don't practice fake news.

That headline was not as accurate as it should have been. I corrected it.

Didn't seem to change many people's minds.

It's all fake news to them.

Thanks, President Trump.

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