Be careful who you believe. As the waters recede in New Orleans, people are beginning to realize that the media’s reports of the disaster were often far-fetched, exagerrated, and sensationalistic. Not that the situation wasn’t dire. It was. And it is. But the media is always looking for a story. If they can’t find one, they’re often more than willing to make one up. And if they do find one (like they did in New Orleans), they’ll be sure to amp it up expontentially so that the relentless titles “Headline News” and “Breaking Story” and “This Just In” will actually have some bite behind their bark.
I’m not trying to make light of the situation in New Orleans. It was horrific, no doubt. And the distress has just begun. But there is definitely a point to be made here about the media, and a practical application for us. Being sensationalistic in your coverage of even the most heart-wrenching of disasters is unacceptable. And those of us who are exposed to this sort of coverage must be careful not to absorb the sort of flamboyancy that goes over-and-beyond the truth in order to make a buck, draw a tear, earn a rating, gain more viewers, get a laugh, or have the fleshly satisfaction of having heard or passed along a rumor. It’s really easy to do.
Be careful how you read. Be careful who you believe. Take care how you tell stories. Be pointed. Be precise. Be accurate. Take care that you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Let reality speak for itself instead of touching it up. Integrity matters.