Verifying news: To inform or to misinform

As much as we love to share information, we should try verifying it before causing a commotion.

Faseeh Mangi February 02, 2011

The human race has always carried with it a tendency to be privy to information on endless lists of mundane topics. Whether the information, in the past, was about the latest sacrifice being performed in the name of some Aztec god or the latest update in the Egyptian riots, we want to know.

As technology advances, media which disseminate information also grow exponentially. If we trek back just a little into time we can recall the only media for news and other information were newspapers, followed by television and radio. If we go back even further there were letters and telegrams which would lengthen the process considerably but would never discourage it, in fact the wait might have even made the news more worthwhile than it really was.

Today, we are not faced with the problem of waiting. We take every piece of news, gossip, information shared with us either through newspapers, radios, TV channels, blogs, emails, text messages or any other medium as facts and at face value, not caring if it’s a rumour or a lie.

One such example can be of the news that telecom operators have suspended BlackBerry services to diplomats. No one even bothered to get hold of a diplomat and ask him. The waiting process, where the news can and should be verified, has almost been eliminated.

Is this a responsible approach? Of course not, and with the current temperament of the country with constant political unrest, rising inflation, heightening death tolls, it is advisable to verify before alarming the masses.

Many unaccounted news pieces have caused avoidable controversies which have and always will result in dire consequences due to irresponsible dispersion of information.

I am a journalist who has taken it upon myself to be a verifier of information not just in my professional information-sharing but also in my private life. I urge all those reading this to do so as well, if you have to pass on information, go ahead, but save many rising blood pressures by making sure you get it right.

Faseeh Mangi A senior sub-editor on the business desk of The Express Tribune who is currently finishing a masters degree in Business Administration.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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