You can’t believe everything you read
Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 11, 2015
Roy Wells would occasionally attend a Sunday school class I used to attend. For those of you who might not know Mr. Wells, he was the co-owner of the appliance store on Cherry Street, Wells and LaHatte, and before he moved, he was a long-time member of Crawford Street United Methodist Church.
Our small, untraditional style class was comprised of an eclectic mix of ages and personalities that focused the hour we had before church on discussions, which revolved around historical events, politicians, the current political issues and occasional theological concepts.
I loved this class. It was a place where I could learn and grow academically and spiritually on many levels, but there was one Sunday that I was awakened by something that Mr. Wells said that I will never forget.
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I was feeling very proud of myself this particular Sunday for interjecting into the class discussion something I had read.
Feeling quite scholarly after I reported my findings, Mr. Wells said, “Terri, do you believe everything you read?”
I sat there for a second to digest what he asked to me. I know this may sound extremely naive, but it had not occurred to me that someone would write something in a magazine that might not be true.
Fast forward to this past November.
The Rolling Stone magazine published a story about a University of Virginia student who said she was gang raped at a campus fraternity house, how tragic and disgusting that a woman would be treated like this.
I was outraged, but unfortunately what has incensed me more is finding out the story is not true.
Now after blackening the eye of the University and causing the fraternity undue anguish, this week the magazine has formerly announced the story was untrue after learning that the so-called victim actually fabricated the story.
Why hadn’t the reporter and the magazine done their homework? There should have been fact checking and cross referencing sources before running with a story that not only hurt a historical university and the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, it has also made it harder for victims of an actual assault to come forward for fear they may not be believed.
Mr. Wells, you were right. You can’t always believe everything you read.
With today’s technology information flows fast and freely. Discerning the truth from what we read and watch can be a challenge, but we need to remember it is our responsibility to exhaust all of our sources before we rush to judgment because it might not be true.
Terri Cowart Frazier is a reporter and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 601-636-4545.