Fits & Fugues

Education can be so much more.

Media Illiteracy

Received today from our district’s Public Information Office (emphasis added in the last line):

“At 2:32 a.m. this morning (April 1) television stations and the Gazette in Colorado Springs were sent a hoax e-mail that looks like a press release from Academy School District 20. The fake press release states that high school students have to retake CSAP tests because some tests were destroyed. All TV stations and the Gazette were alerted this morning that the press release is fake and that the content is erroneous. No CSAP violations have occurred in any of our testing and there are no students who have to retake the test. Some media agencies made no attempt to confirm the e-mail they received and did air the erroneous information or posted it to their websites. Most corrected the information by 8:30 a.m. today.”

It turns out that the “news release” sent to the various news organizations had the district’s logo of some form, the superintendent’s signature of some kind, the mispelled name of our Public Information Officer, multiple misspellings, different font types, and was sent from an non-district email address.

April Fool’s Day hoax commentary aside, how does the story get run at all in any reputable news outlet? Who missed their information literacy standards and why has there been no public outcry even if it was April Fool’s Day? Perhaps it’s because most people already know the truth: the established, commercial media is cannot be trusted so it doesn’t matter anyway. If this sort of communications blunder had happened in the context of a school district mistake, I guarantee those very media outlets would be leading some kind of investigative report calling for someone’s termination.

How did our trusted media sources respond?

From the Gazette:

“Turns out the official looking “news release” from Academy District 20 about high school students needing to retake CSAP was a prank. District officials are trying to determine who sent it to local media. The “why” is obvious.

In keeping with the spirit of the day – good one!”

KRDO NewsChannel 13:

“Early Tuesday morning, NEWSCHANNEL 13 received an apparently legitimate e-mail from District 20. The e-mail explained how the district would be re-testing 9th and 10th graders who had already taken the Colorado Student Assessment Program exam. Multiple local media organizations reported this false information, until the District set the record straight…[text of email]…Obviously, unless for another reason due to a particular circumstance, no students will have to be re-tested. The e-mail is under investigation.”

I was unable to find anything on the other three news stations websites. I guess we’ll just have to trust them.

The joke’s on us.


April 1, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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