Social media had a day Sunday in the High Country, but exactly no one had a good time.

We all know the power of social media posts — for good and bad. Nimble and flexible, we are quickly able to adapt to notifications of an accident on our typical ride home or respond to a family reunion thrown together on short notice.

Or, we can worry that a shooter is at large on the Parkway and no one seems to know where they are. Which is what happened Sunday in Ashe County. Sort of.

What really happened that day is that someone actively listening to a police scanner band heard what seemed to be a report of a shooting at a restaurant in Jefferson. Names were named, details were put forth and all of it was posted to social media. Unfortunately, none of that came from the sheriff’s office — the official source in all such matters. And beyond that there was indeed a law enforcement investigation into the matter, none of it was true.

Expediting the gossip was a pickup of the “story” by a television station, which posted what it had learned from social media on its website — understandably creating a minor flurry of panic from local residents.

We at the newspaper reported that there was an active investigation of some sort involving deputies at the site, which was true and all we knew at that time from speaking with the sheriff — we do not report from unsubstantiated sources.

Because of the public concern, the sheriff uncharacteristically posted a release of a non-event — there was no shooting, no manhunt — to help calm the county.

There are many morals to this tale, but the largest is that you can’t believe everything you read or see on social media — no matter how popular it seems to be.

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(1) comment


Nor can you believe everything that y'all print in this paper, like when you essentially copy/paste talking points for puff pieces on (almost exclusively) Republican politicians. Or when you print overtly-political "letters to the editor" which are in fact letters written up by the very publishers of this paper, and not local citizens/readers.

The job of journalism is not just to report, it's to push back and hold feet to the fire of those in power. Y'all have done the opposite of that, and it only seems to be getting worse as time passes...

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