Professional journalism vs. Topix
Jun 19, 2012 | 8941 views | 0 0 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The news about Cory Burkeen’s blood alcohol content being .000 came as a shock to some, but it shouldn’t.

Because the time of his blood sample extraction is unclear, we may never know what he did or did not drink before his Memorial Day wreck. Hopefully, the facts will come forward. Until then, I am making no judgments.

I just spent an hour or so looking at Topix, a popular message board. News flash: Topix is not news.

A bunch of anonymous people posting and reposting rumors they have heard is not a reliable news source. Many people on Topix have an agenda. They will use such message boards to further their agendas. This may be to libel someone they have an issue with.

The Memorial Day crash is a tragedy. I am new to this community, but I can sense the pain. I’ve worked in other communities and seen what senseless tragedy does to the public mindset. Unfortunately, some individuals used the wreck to promote their own agendas. Rumors were spread. Facts were never checked.

People were angry. Should they be angry? Of course. It’s one of the stages of grief. But without the facts, anger was focused on one person. Many assumed Cory Burkeen was driving drunk, and he was excoriated. Even weeks later, that assertion has not been proven to the point of even charging the man, let alone trying and convicting him. Anger fueled more anger, and posts were written from emotion, not fact.

Then you have your assorted troublemakers, liars and people who hide behind false names, yet pretend to have knowledge just because they knew a subject in passing, or heard a reliable rumor at Dairy Queen.

Which brings me to my point. If you want facts, get them from a reliable news outlet like The Marshall County Tribune-Courier. Our facts come from official sources who are not anonymous. We cross-check these facts with secondary sources to ensure they are true.

My only agenda is to give our readers the best information possible and let them form their own conclusion. I’m not here to influence policy, sell ads or even sell newspapers. I am here to inform anyone who choses to buy and read the newspaper that employs me.

We live in a world where cable television and the Internet inform us of events in near real time. We can watch things unfold as they happen. We demand this of all of our news outlets. Are we, as a weekly paper obsolete? Not at all. Venita Fritz and I agree that we have to work harder. When we know a fact is true and newsworthy, we will inform readers using our website, I just left a daily paper, and understand the need for news now.

In investigations, news takes time to develop. Sources like County Attorney Jeff Edwards and Sheriff Kevin Byars have been transparent, cooperative and more than willing to assist us to inform readers of progress. When they are able to release facts, we will have them to you as quickly as possible.

Given the choice between the instant gratification between a Topix rumor, half-truth or lie, and the satisfaction of vetted facts from official sources provided by The Trib? The decision’s easy.

And it works both ways. If any readers feel like they have a news tip, fantastic or mundane, bring it to me. Shouting it on Topix helps nobody. If it’s true, we have a great story. If not, maybe someone’s reputation will survive with a few less blemishes.
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