Unfortunately many were severely hurt by the media's rush to "get the news" without THINKING. I certainly pray for God to help these people through their grief and help them overcome their terrible ordeal.
The Rush for News… And Its Consequences
Posted By Bobby Eberle On January 4, 2006 at 7:30 am
As many across the nation watched news reports regarding the thirteen trapped miners in Tallmansville, West Virginia, one could only hope that America would witness another miracle such as in 2002 when nine miners were rescued in Somerset, Pennsylvania. On Tuesday night, the word began to spread: the miners were found alive! As church bells rang celebrating the good news, media reports went to press without confirming the actual facts. In this case, there was no Pennsylvania miracle, but rather the heart-breaking news that the report was false, and only one of the thirteen miners was found alive.
As detailed in Trapped Miners Alive! Wait, Not So…
, at 11:50 on Tuesday night, “reports circulated that rescue workers had found 12 of the 13 trapped miners alive. Church bells proclaimed the happy news, spreading relief and euphoria among frantic friends and relatives.”
But then, a few hours later, came the horrifying news: the unconfirmed, but widely circulated report turned out to be false — all but one of the 13 miners were dead, and the surviving miner was in critical condition.
The coal company reportedly learned about the erroneous report within 20 minutes, but it took three hours to set the record straight.
As noted in the FOX News report
, rescue workers on Tuesday night confirmed finding twelve miners. They did not immediately indicate whether the miners were still alive. However, this information soon formed the basis of the miraculous “news” that the miners were alive and would hopefully be rescued. In their story, FOX News reports that “at least two family members in the church said they received cell phone calls from a mine foreman.”
The unconfirmed news eventually made it into print as “a number of newspapers carried the headline ‘Alive’ in early Wednesday editions,” according to CNSNews.com.
Later, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin had to go back to the families of the miners and let them know that earlier information was “inaccurate” and that twelve of the thirteen miners had perished.
“About the confusion, I can’t tell you of anything more heart-wrenching than I’ve ever gone through in my life. Nothing,” Manchin said.
The incredible urge for things to work out and for that one sliver of promising news to actually be true can often outweigh the less instinctive but necessary need to confirm the information. Everyone wanted a miracle, but someone, anyone, should have stepped up right from the beginning and noted that the information had yet to be confirmed. Better yet, information should have been routed to a single spokesman trained in providing fact-based information at the appropriate time.
Reports indicate that the “celebration” lasted for three hours before the real news was given. To journey from high-anxiety and fear to jubiliation to sorrow in a matter of hours is tragic, and the families of the miners deserved better than that. Everyone wants to hear good news. Its the responsibility of the spokespeople and reporters to make sure the good news is really accurate.