Last Wednesday was Real News Day. In today’s technological, need to know it now world, many times what you see on the internet is really not news. Unfortunately, just because you saw it on Facebook, does not make it credible news. I can’t tell you how many times someone has contacted me about a story on Facebook that when I have checked into it, was just simply not true.

I don’t understand why people think that just because you saw it on Facebook that it is the truth. In the Real News industry, we have to check out the facts, not just the hearsay. Recently I received an anonymous letter from someone with a whole list of complaints about an incident that occurred on New Years. A vehicle had been stolen out of Searcy and was wrecked around the county line towards Pangburn. The letter listed all kinds of questions they wanted answered. Upon investigation by me I discovered that there was not a police report because the owner of the vehicle didn’t request one. They owned the vehicle and were able to tow it home themselves. The driver of the vehicle was not found and although the letter stated several people knew who the person was apparently they didn’t tell the police. Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office had responded to the accident and filed activity reports about the incident.

The Sun TImes (and other newspapers) are not in the business to spread rumours or gossip, nor is it our job to “go after” people just because someone saw something on Facebook. I don’t go to Facebook for news, EVER. Please remember just because you saw it there, doesn’t make it so.

Another call we received this week had to do with juveniles who had apparently been caught by police having a party behind FL Davis. The caller really chewed out my front desk girl because we hadn’t reported on this. Frankly sir, maybe you should have been calling the parents, not the newspaper. When it comes to reporting on juveniles it is very difficult to do because they are, juveniles. The laws are very clear on this and because I, for one, don’t want to be involved in a lawsuit, I will not report on juvenile incidents, unless it is approved by police, prosecutors and/or parents. It is not the newspapers job to shame juveniles for misbehavior. I’m sorry, that is their parents job to deal with their children. I’ve raised my three children to be responsible adults, that was my job. I also know there have been a couple incidents at Heber Springs High School. There again, it is not my responsibility to report on these because there are juveniles involved. Now, if parents don’t think the school did their job handling or reporting on the incident then they should get on the agenda of the next school board meeting and tell them their concerns. And if they don’t like what the school board has to say, there are two seats coming open this year on the school board, so get involved.

It is so easy to sit in your recliner and make judgments on what you think you know. Believe me, it isn’t so easy in the real news world. I think back to when I was a kid and we used to play this game where you would whisper something in someone’s ear and then they would pass it on to the next person and so on. When the last person received the information they would say it loud enough for all to hear. By the time it got to the last person it was almost always totally different from how it started. To me, this is how Facebook news sometimes works. People will comment on what they “heard” but no one actually checks with the parties involved to see where the truth lies. When I receive a tip, I go to the parties involved and check out the facts, if I feel it is newsworthy, I’ll write a story on it or assign it to one of my freelancers.

Sometimes the truth makes people mad and I’ve faced quite a bit of that since coming to Heber Springs. It’s like that too in the Real News business. I know the national news media, especially television media, has caused many to lose confidence in the media overall But please, don’t judge me on them. Judge me on what I report on. There is a lot more I would like to report on or have in the paper, but lack of staff sometimes prevents that. Sometimes I just don’t know about things that are happening because being a new transplant I don’t know people who are “in the know”. It really isn’t fair to blast me on what I don’t know that I don’t know. I am always open to hear your comments though or your news tips. But don’t count on me to look at Facebook for news. The Sun Times is your legitimate Real News source and I will continue to do what I can to bring you the news in Cleburne County, and I welcome your help and support.

Until next time...