EDITOR’S COMMENT: Don’t be fooled

Roger Hawes
Roger Hawes
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‘I saw it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so it must be true’.

Those are the sorts of comments that you hear nowadays, from a generation born and bred into online social media.

But is this fully accessible to us all media the right place to get the full story?

The old adage of there is no smoke without fire of course often indicates an element of truth but start to ask some questions and what you read is often just part of the story or just plain wrong.

Newspapers at all levels have taken a kicking in recent years for their accuracy, morals and ability to cover stories properly.

Here at the Advertiser where our in print and online audiences combined are now at their highest for a decade, it is often hard to get to the bottom of a story in the time available.

With staffing cut to the bone and the added pressures of running a daily online local news service (www.buckinghamtoday.co.uk facebook.com/AdvertiserGrp @AdvertiserGrp) there is sometimes too little time to do the story justice.

But rest assured the Advertiser is a professional news feed and employs reporters, who despite the pressures produce accurate, honest information worthy of scrutiny.

But are we in danger of becoming a society used to flimsy, non researched news, happy to accept social media tittle-tattle as fact?

Rest assured the reporters here at the Advertiser always attempt to check the facts with official sources like the police, councils or individuals involved, before putting ‘pen to paper’.

But often the immediacy of our audience, especially online, dictates some sort of story and we want it NOW.

This brings with it all sorts of problems for today’s mobile audience and the official sources need to confirm and substantiate the facts.

A recent example of this was when yours truly was tipped off about trouble at a local prison and the escape of two inmates at Springhill Prison, Grendon Underwood.

I was given facts from a source in the know and, as was proved later, everything I was told was correct.

However to get this news out to alert readers it was necessary to use social media whilst going to the police to confirm the facts and the detail.

This is where things went wrong as the police press team did not see this story as a priority not accepting that the local paper is now a daily news feed hungry for news and it took more than seven hours to confirm the incident.

In the meantime, few facts were available for a story and it was left to the social media jungle drums to relay the story - unconfirmed of course.

Whilst in this case the tip off was spot on, the poor response time from an official source left the story without real substance and relied on the reputation of the Advertiser brand to give it its credentials.

So perhaps it is time for official sources to up their game and make sure it isn’t a case of forget the facts, get the story.