Public Editor

Should Ebola rumor have gotten bigger play in print?

A caller pointed me to what she called the best story in the print edition of The Star today: A local report about a false rumor that has ended up on a KC blog, a Wichita TV website, and even Breitbart.com. It claimed an Ebola patient had been admitted to a hospital in Kansas City.

Again, to underscore: The rumor is false.

“The article was informative and very good, but too important not to be on the front page,” said the reader. “Why didn’t the editors put that one on the front page, and maybe put the one about Ebola in Spain on Page 4 where this one was?”

It’s a good suggestion. But then on the other hand, journalists could do a lot of reporting on topics that are actually false rumor or hoax. Goodness knows the Internet is full of this garbage.

There’s an equally justifiable train of thought that to give these ideas greater prominence might lead to other similar bits of misinformation — or attention to an intentional hoax. There’s a case to be made for not making these takedowns too prominent.

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