Your View: Ebola Hoax Report
COLUMBIA - On Oct. 16, KOMU posted a report on its Facebook page regarding an Ebola hoax in Cole County. The text that supplemented a link to the story said, "A ‘hoax' Ebola report sent first responders scrambling in Cole County this morning."
One viewer was angry at our word choice. "They were not 'scrambling.' What a terrible word to use. I watched the press conference and the woman stated everyone worked in a calm manor very well together. No 'panicked and scrambling.' Your headlines really piss me off," Jered Sharp commented.
Annie Hammock, KOMU's Interactive Director, said she is responsible for the word choice and did not intend to make the response seem disorderly. "Scramble is a word used in first responder language just when people leave the station - they scramble - that was the context I was using it in," she said. "It wasn't my intent to suggest that there was panic but when there is a call on something as worrisome as an Ebola claim, there was definitely urgency to it."
Other Facebook followers were also upset at KOMU for choosing to report a hoax in the first place.
"Kinda like a local news network constantly posting anything they can find about ebola, little that has substance or helps educate people. But that's none of my business," wrote Steve Struemph.
Dr. William Salzer, head of Infectious Diseases at MU, said he thinks news outlets are covering Ebola "probably more than it deserves to be reported on." He said media tends to sensationalize the disease and has not just reported the facts.
"If it's not certain and it's not verified probably don't make a big thing of it," he said.
Hammock said she thinks the biggest issue with the original Facebook post was its clarity. But she said KOMU did well in thoroughly answering any questions from confused readers.
"I think we got off to a little bit of a rocky start because our initial report was not as clear as it could have been," she said. "I think we recovered from it nicely and made sure that we immediately responded to questions."
What do you think about KOMU's choice to share the report on our Facebook page? Did our word choice sensationalize the story? Was the original report even worth sharing with our followers?
Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then watch KOMU 8 News at six on Friday to see your view of the news.
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