Niagara Gazette — However, as those texts were spreading through the region like a digital wildfire, the story grew. Suddenly there were references to bombs placed in other locations in the city, including Walmart and Target. A third school, Hyde Park Elementary, went into lockdown later Monday when someone called the school to say they’d heard there was a bomb there as well, Laurrie told me.
Clearly, the wonderful ability we now have to instantaneously communicate with others — when we need to do so — has changed all our lives, but obviously such connectedness has its downside.
With all that texting, tweeting and posting, community terror was amped up by the spread of bad information. It doesn’t take a crystal ball reader to know that in a crisis situation, good information can save lives but bad information can be deadly.
In retrospect, it leaves some of us wondering how to better use this extraordinary connective power. The Gazette’s staff talked about this in the newsroom Tuesday, in agreement that instant communication certainly has its place in news gathering.
However, as journalists, our job is to confirm with creditable sources before we post information. We share the news as we confirm it on our website, Facebook and Twitter accounts, bit by bit over the course of an event. Not everybody providing information has the ability or the interest to make sure it’s true. So, when something is posted beyond news sites you’ve come to respect on the Internet, it’s important to remember to take it with a grain of salt.
Threats and emergencies are typically unexpected. At such times, people desperately need information. But that’s when it’s most important to remember the age-old rules of communication: Don’t believe everything you hear or read — and always consider the source.
Contact Features Editor Michele DeLuca at 282-2311, ext. 2263.Contact Features Editor Michele DeLuca at 282-2311, ext. 2263.