Last March, during a few but intense minutes, Spanish media reported on a presumed air crash at Canary Islands. Pictures and comments in social networks showed what seemed to be an airplane that had splashed down.
Numerous witnesses, pilots included, affirming that they were looking at a plane floating on the sea and Gran Canaria Airport confirming the accident led Canary Emergency Services to officially issue the hoax at its Twitter account. Then, media gave the green light to breaking news reporting the fake incident. Panic spread until rescue helicopters checked that the plane was actually a big crane carried by a ferry.
This is the last example of how Internet contributes to amplify hoaxes and how media fall the trap because of hurry and pressure from social networks and trending topics. And lack of professionalism.
Superabundance of information in the web makes the journalist’s task even more necessary than ever to organize, verify and communicate to the society relevant facts in a brief way.
Truly, anyone in the right place at the right time (for instance, at Canary shore on March 27th at 3 pm) with a smart phone may turn into a “citizen journalist” and broadcast to the world that a plane has crashed. A “professional journalist” must confirm the event with different sources and get accurate information about what has happened before publishing it. This is what makes the difference.
Unfortunately, in many occasions we are seeing the defeat of true in the race of scoops. A famous axiom among reporters claims: “In the case of doubt, journalism”. A sentence more valid than ever.