RYAN LIPPERT WRITES – The Sewol, a South Korean ferry, started sinking off the coast of South Korea on Wednesday. The government and media tried to keep the nation informed, but their stories aren’t matching up. If this continues, the public’s trust in these groups may sink too.
Early reports on the status of the ferry’s passengers and crew were inconsistent. Some outlets claimed that all of the high school students on board had been rescued, while officials stated that 368 were safe and two were dead. Neither of these reports come close to the actual number of people saved, missing, and dead. Since Friday, 179 have been saved, 28 found dead, and approximately 270 have still not been found.
Reports about the sinkage’s cause have been varying as well. Some experts thought the Sewol went off course and hit something. However, on Thursday, the Oceans and Fisheries Ministry stated that the vessel stayed on course. Following this, Yellow Sea Maritime Police Agency chief Kim Soo Hyeon stated that it looked like the Sewol went off course, but did not run into anything.
It gets worse. The media also claimed that people, still trapped in the Sewol, posted text messages on social media shortly after the ferry started sinking. In response, the police announced that the texts were fake. This revelation has sparked considerable outrage, especially from those whose family members are either dead or missing.
While the reasons for these inconsistencies remain unknown, this incident shows just how important it is for the media to check their facts. It is the media’s duty to inform the public about tragedies, but they must always remember that it is more important to be right than to be first.