Sometime last night, one of our community members posted a FanPost about a football player being arrested for shoplifting at Dissmores. It was a post meant not just to pass along a little bit of news, but also to put that news in the context of some of the larger issues plaguing the team over the past two years.
Only one problem: It was a case of mistaken identity, and the football player actually had done nothing wrong.
The intent wasn't malicious, but it might have affected this player's reputation unnecessarily for the short time it was on our site. And because of that, we really screwed up -- all of us, starting with me. I promoted it to the front page without checking the veracity of the report, and I should know better than that. I have a journalism degree and I teach journalism -- that's a pretty inexcusable blunder on my part.
So, here is a big guideline we all need to abide by from here on out when posting news -- especially news that could potentially be damaging to someone's reputation:
If you post some news to the site, ALWAYS link to the source. This allows all of us to verify the credibility of that source, and thereby the news.
In this case, there were no published reports to link to. However, the police log could have been linked to, at which time we all could have seen that the person who was arrested was 20 and not 18, and therefore not the football player. Could have saved us all a big headache.
Luckily, the accusation here was pretty benign -- third-degree shoplifting. But it might not be in the future. And in this realm of push-button news, we can never be too careful.
My sincerest apologies to the player in question, whose name I'm not using because there's nothing to be gained by continuing to associate him with the erroneous report. We'll do better in the future. I promise.