Reporter’s Notebook: Self-inflicted Media Wounds

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“A gaping, self-inflicted social media wound bleeding all over the Evansville, Indiana airport Facebook page.” How would you like something you wrote to be forever described like that?

That’s how Jay Baer on Social Media Today labeled a recent FB post that I feel proves my point of the dangers that you bloggers face when avoiding journalistic responsibility to check your facts and write intelligently with respect for your readers.

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Here is the Facebook item:

We just saw a tweet from Google facts that an airline in India only hires women because they are lighter, so they save $500,000 in fuel!!! Insert your women drive jokes below – haha!

Not to diminish the really bad taste soliciting for “women drive jokes,” and flat out offending women fliers, but I want to concentrate on the “responsibility” factor of the author of this bit of “writing.”

There are so many errors & misrepresentations in that post that if the writer had checked his/her facts, and then double checked what he/she wrote, this post would not have been written (I hope).

As an editor and as a writer, I would ask: is this a long-standing policy or a new one (hasn’t even been launched, but the post seems to indicate this is an ongoing practice); is this company-wide (no, just for flight attendants, but the post seems to imply all positions are so marked); is the fuel savings daily, monthly, yearly or total (yearly).

I did my homework and researched the item about low cost carrier Go Air, pulling these facts from several sources, including this CNN story.

“Weight and its reduction is a key focus for airlines as fuel costs, comprising a third to half an airline’s operating costs, continue to rise.”

The airline is also reducing the size of in-flight magazines and capacity of water tanks; the hiring of ‘women only’ is neither an isolated incident nor even impending. The current “130 male cabin staff (out of 330 total) will be unaffected — the policy affects future hires only. The airline expects to hire around 2,000 flight attendants and pilots over the next seven years.”

As you can see, after you check out the basic story, the focus was really on an airline trying every which way to cut costs. Nothing funny about that. And as Baer points out, nothing to do with female drivers.

Granted this was not an issue with a blog, but with a Facebook post. Yet my point about you bloggers being reporters, self-training yourselves to check facts, watching what you write and respecting your community of readers is self-evident. If you don’t learn this in your formative stages, it will come to haunt you, and someday someone will hang you with creating a “gaping, self-inflicted social media wound bleeding all over” the internet.

Anthony M Scialis

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