Social media DOES spur accountability
Here comes a bit of a mea culpa (and an overdue one at that).
Back in July of last year I wrote a blog post that fed off a couple of stories circling the Internet. One was about a man who claimed to have photographed a rare Tiger in China, which was proven to be false. The other story was about a tribe in Brazil that many media outlets identified as either being lost or just recently discovered, only to report later that they were never lost and the story was a hoax perpetuated by a non-profit organization.
In going back and reading my old blog post, I realize that at the time I was a bit harsh on Survival International. Although I did correctly identify that they never claimed the tribe was lost (see “Uncontacted tribe photographed near Brazil-Peru border”) and used the word “uncontacted”, I stated that they should assume the “most blame for the characterization of the story and also its fall-out.” (see “Social media spurs accountability, transparency and yes, honesty”)
Well, to be fair to Survival International – they did report the story and facts accurately. They certainly never intended to mislead anyone. Ultimately, it was a flock of journalists, starting with Peter Beaumont of the Guardian (UK) who spread the “‘lost’ tribe that wasn’t” story, which Survival International did its utmost to quash and set straight.
The point of all this is – I do owe the folks at Survival International an apology for not more properly identifying the media misrepresentation, which was the real problem. I also owe a special note of thanks to Matthew Linares, a web activist who first contacted me and has patiently awaited this blog post.
At the end of the day I need to be more careful about how I interpret events or statements. What’s more, I have learned I need to be more responsive – or just as quick to correct facts in error as I was to make the error in the first place.