(WOIO) - It's a local story that made international headlines. And, at first glance, rightfully so. Who wouldn't be outraged by a report of three dogs mercilessly tied to railroad tracks in the Tremont neighborhood, in the path of an oncoming train? If only the story were true. Turns out, one of the canines accidentally hooked its leash on the tracks but managed to escape injury. The two other dogs who supposedly died? Well, they never existed.
The bogus story of animal abuse, repeated endlessly in the news, comes the same week that the Pugh Organization released a study on the public's perception of the media. The study shows that just 56% believe what the media, in general is dishing out. Local news and CBS' 60 minutes scored somewhat better, at 65%.
More than anything else, though, the Tremont dog tale underscores the increasing influence of social media, where the story caught on faster than a greyhound in a meat market but where there are no editors, no fact-checkers to verify the story.
The dog story, and the Pugh study – a reminder to all of us in the dog-eat-dog news business – that getting the story right, is as important as getting it fast.
Write and let me know what you think. I'm Bill Applegate.