Fake News Jumps All Over A Planned Emergency Drill
Well, there you have it fellow Mid-Michigan sheeple. There is fake news after all.
Tuesday afternoon, social media went a-buzzin' about an active shooter holding hostages at Celebration Cinema in South Lansing. And, quite understandably, if you were on of the other 196 listeners to broadcastify.com live streaming of Ingham County Public Safety radio traffic, that's exactly what was being described.
Except, it was a planned event. In the time I received a frantic phone call from co-workers, turned on my Scanner Radio app, listened to the traffic, typed eight sentences and hit "Post", I heard a dispatcher relay information to on-scene commanders that social media is reporting an actual situation. Law enforcement and emergency officials were simply conducting a live drill.
The good news is: A: there is no need for concern. B: Lansing residents are vigilant and have each other's backs. C: Our local heroes go above and beyond typical calls of duty to prepare for something so catastrophic.
The bad news is: A: Too many of us believe what we see and hear before getting the whole story. B: Quick one-line updates may be easily digestible, but are likely the root of all problems when it comes to how we communicate as a community and society. C: We, in the media, have proven, once again, that fake news indeed does exist. As we jump on the same hear-say and one-line novel, eagerly waiting for that scoop to undo our competitors, bait those clicks, and please corporate bottom-liners, we all, with the exception of the remaining trustworthy few left, are the catalyst of A and B.
I'm sorry to say that I am one of those click-baiters, officially as of today. If we all want to have each other's backs and inform neighbors and loved ones of eminent danger, we all must be more responsible in doing so. And, that starts here. Not just specifically me, this site, this company, but the media as a whole.
Danger lurks, stories need to be told. We all need to be informed. Take it from me, first hand, there is a lot of improvement to be done when it comes to delivering accurate, informative, and potentially life-saving details in times of public emergency. A level of trust that should exist breaks down more and more each day. And, soon the sheep won't listen to the one who cries wolf, until the wolf actually sneaks in and causes harm.
I hope it doesn't take tragedy to perpetuate reality. With that, I offer you my sincerest apology.