Take it with a TON of salt

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By The Staff

Did you see Earth Day at the new Orchard Park this past Saturday?

Wait... film at eleven!

Hundreds of Shelby County residents attend the annual Chamber Showcase!

Tune in to see more tonight!

Funny, those events didn't seem to make the evening broadcast news.

But, let a local restaurant have a case of food poisoning and it's virtually a national television media event.

This is in no way a slight to those who got sick. It is a miserable experience and one we all want to avoid especially those folks in the restaurant, grocery and food processing industries. It could happen anywhere, anytime and we count on our health officials and restaurant workers to keep us safe.

What we are addressing is the blatant, often sensational, broadcast news coverage that screams the distressing, often damaging, sound bites without proper journalistic follow-through. They are also quick to rush to the scene of the disaster while no truck or pretty anchorperson is anywhere near a community event like Showcase or Orchard Park.

The Sentinel-News took some criticism for not publishing, either in print or online, the same gory (and often unsubstantiated) details as the television news. Our responsibility is to get it right. That means we waited for official numbers from the health department authorities, we checked with local hospital officials to verify numbers and we also didn't rush to assert that a local death was related, when it wasn't. When it comes to local news and events we hope you have a higher standard and look for the verification and facts on every story.

In this day of instant news coverage it has become common to find a national or international event online within minutes. Or even more titillating is the celebrity gossip, intrigue and dirty laundry that is aired daily. Our broadcast media cousins have had to respond with more and more coverage, hype, promotion and, yes - some sensationalism - to keep their ratings up. Yes, newspapers do some of that also. We try to put stories above the fold that will help sell papers, but we will not be driven by demands for instantaneous results, fact embellishing or spouting words for the sake of a 2-minute airtime or online deadline.

We believe if it happens in our back yard it requires the due diligence you expect. So take what you see on TV with a ton of salt. The Sentinel-News won't give you a quickie "stand in front of a sign and declare a disaster drama" you will get the real story. But wait there's more, "film at eleven."