Earthquake fact or fiction
Rumors made for poor news
The largest earthquake ever recorded in Virginia was felt on Tuesday, Aug. 23. With a magnitude measuring at 5.8 and 5.9 in some areas, this quake truly was significant and was felt all the way from North Carolina to parts of Canada. However, it was the rumors afterward that truly put people in an uproar.
Naturally, this unusual occurrence became a prominent news angle for reporters and broadcasters, and the race was on to see who would break the story with the most speed. Unfortunately, while speed was the goal in sight, accuracy was slightly overlooked.
Afternoon Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly received criticism from other forms of media for hastily reporting that the Washington Monument was tilting as a result of the earthquake. In the segment, she uneasily quotes a Washington, D.C. police officer saying, “They are concerned the Washington Monument may be tilting.” Later that afternoon, a statement by an unknown source was issued on Foxnews.com, claiming that cracks were found in the monument.
“Wouldn’t it be incumbent on a news organization to check out the facts?” Bill Line of the National Park Service asked. Line, who was interviewed by The Washington Post, expressed concern over the rumor by explaining that the National Park Service reported that the Washington Monument was closed and nothing further.
Therefore, all other assumptions by Fox News had to have been derived from sources that would hardly seem credible.
In fact, although the Monument was closed until pronounced safe due to a four-foot crack, it was virtually unharmed by the earthquake. “It stands tall and proud,” Police Sgt. David Schlosser said in an interview with IBTimes. The confusion of facts left viewers along the East Coast in a state of confusion.
Rumors travel fast, but it is a surprise that national reporting is in such a race to deliver information that fact checking is not always the top priority.
Fox News is considered by many viewers to be a credible source of news reporting and the incident has been nothing short of a disappointment.
Although anchor Megyn Kelly’s segment has been accounted for by Fox News, this situation has truly been an earth shattering shake into reality for reporters and journalists to always carefully check facts and sources before reporting to the public.