One thing is for sure…in this day, it is more important than ever to check and re-check sources for everything you hear or see. A sad and yet strong example of this reared its head last weekend when the managing editor of Penn State’s Onward reported that Joe Paterno had passed away, and much to the editor’s self-reproach, media outlets across the country picked up the message and spread it countrywide. Later that evening, it was confirmed by the family the information was false.
I have to admit, when I saw this “news item” on Facebook, I believed every bit of it, and passed along to a few friends and family that may or may not have yet heard the news. I felt guilty after hearing that it was untrue for jumping to conclusions from something I saw on Facebook…such a reliable news source, right? But more times than not, when pressed for time and unable to fully read the facts, I resort to Facebook to tell me what has gone on in the world the night before. Granted, I am not a reporter for a huge TV station, or even a local newspaper, but it is scary how the game of “Telephone” can occur in these huge news outlets that we all rely on, and we can easily connect with how it could happen.
More and more often in my industry, customers shopping for price ONLY get burned by the game of telephone. They go online and rather than doing their research, they trust unreliable sources for their product information, and the product they order ends up being not at all what they believed it to be. Unfortunately, there are many companies out there selling products under false pretensions, false dimensions, false materials, and even false company names. Falling victim to the above is inevitable if you don’t do your research through a trusted source.
Although Joe Paterno has taught us all many valuable lessons over his years in the spotlight, and whether we believe that his situation was legitimate or superfluous, there is one moral we can all learn from the unfounded announcement of his death: Research the validity of any “fact”, and then research it again.