The mod­ern ver­sion of bro­ken tele­phone

The Compass - - CLASSIFIED - Melissa Jenk­ins Melissa Jenk­ins is a reporter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass news­pa­per in Car­bon­ear.

So I man­aged to go on a pretty dra­matic wild goose chase for the first time since I be­gan work­ing at The Com­pass. The cul­prit? So­cial me­dia. Now don’t get me wrong, I have been re­ferred to as the guru of so­cial me­dia in the of­fice since it’s my main means of con­tact­ing sources for my sto­ries and I’ll spo­rad­i­cally use it to find leads — case in point, the story about the boys and the go­cart was found on Face­book.

On the morn­ing of Sept. 15, my Face­book news­feed was bom­barded with in­for­ma­tion on an in­ci­dent that hap­pened in Perry’s Cove, Con­cep­tion Bay.

The posts said there was car fire that took place along the edge of a cliff and the two oc­cu­pants were dead. One per­son even ex­plained that their fam­ily wit­nessed a body be­ing lifted up from the cliff. But sto­ries did range from car fire to a fight that lead to a death.

Many of those com­ment­ing were lo­cals so I thought there was a pretty good chance there was some truth to the story, so I de­cided I would chase it.

It was Sun­day so I de­cided to take a drive to the com­mu­nity and see for my­self what was go­ing on.

To my sur­prise, when I ar­rived there were no fire trucks, am­bu­lances or po­lice cars. I drove around, look­ing for lo­cals to ask them where the “in­ci­dent” took place.

One man fi­nally pointed me to­wards an old path that led to a sin­gle house on the edge of a cliff.

I thought, “Fi­nally.” But where were the emer­gency res­cue per­son­nel?

It was so quiet I could hear the waves on top of the 50-some­thing me­tre cliff and the crunch of the gravel un­der my san­dals.

That was when I called the RCMP dis­patch in St. John’s.

Within min­utes I re­ceived a call back from a Trin­ity Con­cep­tion of­fi­cer, and his re­sponse ac­tu­ally made me laugh. The story wasn’t just blown out of pro­por­tion. It was “blown out of this planet.”

Turns out there was no fire, no car, no deaths and no cliffs. The of­fi­cer ex­plained a cou­ple of drunk men were walk­ing along the road in the com­mu­nity and one slipped and hit his head. How it got as far as it did is be­yond me.

As a reporter I rely on sources ( from both sides) to get a story out, but this has made me ques­tion the va­lid­ity of so­cial me­dia.

I know, I know. Don’t be­lieve ev­ery­thing you read on the In­ter­net. And I don’t. But when a story is re­peated by dozens of peo­ple, it’s worth check­ing on.

It ap­pears the “bro­ken tele­phone” game I played as a kid is back in full swing, but this new gen­er­a­tion of tech­nol­ogy is giv­ing it a whole new mean­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.