It was a great quote.

“I know for a fact the mayor’s wife gets her birth control pills at the county health department,” said a public official.

Fact is, the mayor was single.

We didn’t print the quote, knowing it was false.

That was in another city several years ago.

We believe the job of media is to fact-check information, at least to the best of our ability.

Years ago I attended a seminar in Wichita on fact-checking.

The problem with fact-checking is, it takes a lot of time and effort which many reporters simply don’t have time to achieve.

Once it was the editor’s job to check facts but some newspapers these days don’t have editors and those that do, don’t give the editors the time they once had.

I once had an fact-checker from an unscrupulous tabloid call me to check on some facts. Most of the facts were incorrect and I told him so but they printed it anyway. So it seems is the way of social media these days. Users know it’s incorrect, but they share it anyway.

If, as in the case of the above quote, we know it is not true, we make every attempt to find the real facts.

We can handle the truth.

Granted, most of the time if a public official makes a statement, we often take them at their word.

“Vehicle 1 was traveling north in lane #1. Vehicle 2 was traveling north in lane #4. Vehicle 1 made an improper lane change, lost control, and struck vehicle 2” is not a report that most would question.

We don’t publish hearsay, innuendo or questionable comments. While other news media often publish pictures or comments on social media, we don’t, unless we know for sure where it came from.

Apparently many social media users didn’t believe Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, a conservative Republican, who said foreign countries put things on social media during elections.

“They don’t care who wins. They just want to put fake articles on Facebook. They want to put things on Twitter just to cause doubt in your mind,” he said while visiting Abilene in January.

Since the beginning of the Internet, users have been putting pictures and stuff out there that is real fake news.

We’ve all seen the magical castle sitting on a huge tree out in a body of water or the moon perfectly fitting into a basketball hoop. How about the cow chilling on a vehicle?

Weather photos of strange clouds or flashy tornados are popular.

With a little time and the help of Photoshop, many photographers can produce those same effects.

Before there was Photoshop, MGM did a great job of producing a tornado in “The Wizard of Oz.” It looked pretty real and that was over 80 years ago.

The tornado was actually a 35-foot long muslin sock, inspired by the wind socks at airports and then they threw a lot of wind and dirt at it. 

Yes, I fact-checked that. The special effects director Arnold Gillespie explained that several times over the years.

Now those individuals who are reposting fake pictures are questioning the fact-checkers. There are social media users that don’t believe Snopes.com.

We welcome anyone to fact-check our facts. We want to know when we get it wrong and we will correct it. In the meantime, you can expect us to do our best to bring you the truth because, frankly, we think you can handle it, too.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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