There are times I really hate the internet and this week is one of them. Some people post outrageous and just plain wrong statements on our comment section. Part of me says I should just ignore it. I often do. But I am finding people are starting to believe what is said.
A good example of this was the shooting Memorial Day that left Jennifer Agee dead and State Police Sgt. Matt Brannock shot. Someone posted this on our comment section, "got told a few mins ago that trooper shot will be ok! Catch up News7."
We knew early on a State Police trooper had been shot and that he was ok. The problem is no one would confirm it on the record. We can't just go on the air and report whatever we hear. We have to wait until authorities are ready to release the information. I know this is frustrating. People want information right away but we have to wait, and there's a good reason for it. During a breaking news situation, a lot of the information in the beginning turns out to be wrong. For example, we first heard the trooper had been shot in the head. Turns out he was shot in the leg. What if we went on the air or and reported that or posted it on our website?? These same people would be criticizing us for not waiting until we had confirmation. We also heard the victim at the Sheetz worked for the Roanoke County Police Department. That too turned out not be true. We never reported any of this. We waited until we got the story right. Every news organization wants to get the story first. We are all competitive but it is important to first get it right!
People also need to realize during a breaking news situation authorities don't drop everything to come talk to us. They have a job to do. Would you expect a firefighter to put down a hose and come give me information while a house is burning? No. So I ask you to be patient. We are professionals. We know what we are doing. Trust us! Also, I think I've said this before but don't believe everything you read on facebook.
Some are also criticizing the news media for reporting on the possible motive in the shooting that killed Jennifer Agee. Some have said we are trying to smear a dead woman and we are just reporting gossip. We are not TMZ. We report facts. We got this information from search warrants. These are court documents, not a piece paper we found in a dumpster or information we heard in the line at the grocery store. Certainly our hearts go out to the Agee family but we have a job to do. What is the question many of you have asked since Monday's shooting? what prompted this? It is our job to try to answer those questions, even if it is painful information that some don't want to hear.