When the “Citizen Journalists” Lie

The Morning Sun, up in Central Michigan, has the story of one Jeannette Evitts, a student at Mid Michigan Community College, who sent out a photo of a tornado in her area.

This was out back of my apartment complex like 35 minutes ago… I risked my LIFE for it…It’s gone now… it went back up before it was out of sight

Except … it wasn’t. And she didn’t.

The graphic design student whipped up the image in Photoshop, then posted it to Facebook where friends – and one TV station – believed it to be true.

After being challenged a number of times and defending the authenticity, she finally posted this:

I AM SO SORRY EVERYONE! I Photoshopped that photo of the tornado. I didn’t really think it would be so big! I’m so sorry!!! It got waaaaay out of control way too fast! Insane.

So … is she a “citizen journalist?” And, if she were to even understand that label, how should we respond?

Know your sources, folks. Remember: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Mark E. Johnson

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