Hello all. This wasn’t the plan for my first post as host of a coming relaunch of “The Show with Rod Milam” online via http://umslradio.com but I feel that circumstances demand a clear statement from me and how I plan on conducting my program in general when it comes to the information that I will give and the news that I broadcast around the world.
This is basically a repost of what I wrote on my personal Facebook status update, but made “Public” for all to see regarding the seeming escalation in some social unrest that is currently going on in some sections of the St. Louis, Missouri metro area (Ferguson) after the shooting and subsequent killing of an unarmed, young black man by an older, white Ferguson police officer. The fact that this happened is not in dispute. But the events that lead up to the shooting and what has happened in the last couple of days as a reaction to the shooting are quite varied.
I will NOT be commenting or opining on the actual events, but the subject of this post is what I think is a needed caution to all of us that exist online with social media accounts. Whether you know it or not, you hold a powerful tool in your hands and under your thumbs. And if you don’t use it wisely, you can, unwittingly, not help situations that you are only trying to understand and make better.
On to my post from Facebook…
[Mounts soapbox] Hello St. Louisians. I’d caution all here on Facebook about speculating on what is/was going on at The Galleria this evening (and the larger unrest that’s going on in certain sections of the metro area).
I can see from my newsfeed that some people were actually in the mall when some of the purported activity was going on. They are telling different stories that those that weren’t there AND that are on traditional media. These eyewitnesses probably have a MUCH better take on what was going down at the time. The traditional press is going to be the press and is not going to be able to get the fullness of the story (read: not just “both” sides, but “all” sides of what is going on. It’s not black & white…pardon the expression), but that doesn’t mean that they’re going out of their way to skew the story.
As a former member of the press and someone that is used to taking a much more considered measure of things before “broadcasting” information, I really think that all should really be very, VERY wary about spreading every tidbit of information they hear on FB and other social media without proper confirmation and thought. Social media is an awful place to get full context about what is going on and a very effective place to spread simple things rapidly. Please resist the urge to just “Share” and “Retweet” every little thing you see. In this increasingly tense time brewing in the St. Louis area, quick-fingered posting of all information and non-skeptical thinking about news from any quarter can easily make the situation in town worse for everyone.
This won’t be a popular statement or an easy thing for people to do. But I feel that I’d be failing any journalistic training and practice that I’ve had if I failed to put this up for all that follow what I do and say on FB to see. Feel free to “Share” this post if you agree. [Dismounts soapbox]