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by thea marie
What's on my mind....
Now the fury is on about who was right and who was wrong in the fiasco that resulted from inaccurate reporting regarding the deaths of the miners in Virginia.
I had been loosely following the incident, reading the reports out of Virginia as efforts were made to rescue the workers. Something about people being trapped, in mines, wells, tunnels, etc. has always fascinated me in a macabre sort of way. I guess I'm one of those people who root for the underdog. When those kinds of tragedies occur, I'm right in there, hoping that it turns out favorably for the trapped person or persons.
Years ago, when baby Jessica fell down into that well and it seemed the whole world followed the story, I cried when they finally got her out of there. She was injured, dirty, and scared, but the little girl made it.
It was no different this time. Even though it didn't look good for the workers once the air quality reports came out, I, like I'm sure the loved ones and friends of those Virginia miners also did, clung to the hope that they would make it out alive.
I first read it on the AOL news, that one of the men had been found dead. I'm thinking, this really doesn't look good for the others. But I'm still hoping that maybe the rest had found a pocket of fresh air and were still hanging on to be rescued. Not long after, it came out on AOL and then Yahoo News that the other men had been found, and they were alive.
I was very glad to hear that, in fact, almost jubilant. Even though I didn't know any of them, I was happy for their triumph over adversity. But still, I was a little troubled to further read that those news reports I was reading said that the information they were relating of the men being alive came from the families of the men, not from an official source. I double-checked each article to make sure that what I was reading was correct. They both said the same thing (which they normally do since they seem to get their news from the AP.), the information had come from the families of the trapped men. That, to me, didn't have much of a ring of reliability to it.
Surely enough, I got up the next morning to find the headline had changed to all but one of the men had been found dead. I was devastated, but not entirely surprised. What did me in more than anything was that I had seen the ragged hole in the story and had questioned it at the beginning. It seemed funny to me that the families would be reporting anything before the officials on the scene made an 'official' statement and that the news services would buy into it.
According to the link above, some of the most widely read newspapers in the nation went out to the public that next morning with their headlines blaring the erroneous information that the workers had been found alive. Like middle school kids, in their rush to be the first to blab the story, the reporters had it it all wrong. It seems they relied on hearsay, overheard cell phone transmissions and whatnot, rather than waiting to get the facts.
Then, once the story got out, the people in charge of the mines made the decision to wait and see what was really going on with the men before they addressed it. I can't say I blame them. The 'story' had spread like wildfire. I'm sure they kept silent in the hope that it would turn out to be true. Sadly, three hours after it was reported that the men were alive, the reality ended up being the worst for everyone involved.
I was truly saddened. I cannot imagine the let-down and the heaped-on grief of those who lost husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, and friends down in that mine.
It has been a tragedy on many levels, but the media, in their irresponsiblity certainly played a huge part in making it worse for all of us. Most certainly it was made worse for those families and friends.
This incident has truly etched in stone the adage that you cannot believe everything that you read.