I had an experience with the media about a year ago or so involving one of my friends. He had decided to enter an online relationship with a 17 year old girl from another state. After months of talking, he decided to go pick her up and bring her back here. Small problem - he never got the Mom's permission. I almost drove him, but he could never produce an emancipation letter for her.
Turned out not going on that trip was one of the smartest things I ever did. He left and took the bus down there on a Friday, and was scheduled to arrive back via bus on Monday. So on Monday Signal11 walks up to me at work and says "I think one of your friends is on this news website". I punch up the site, and sure enough, my friend, and this girl are on the front page with the headline "Local pedophile kidnaps Florida girl met through Internet". Now, being as that I almost drove them up here, and talked to the girl ahead of time I knew she had not been kidnapped. Needless to say, this captured my attention and I spent my day watching the story develop in the media.
I checked a plethora of local, national, and Florida websites. My friend, and this girl were on the front page of everyone of them. They were also all over the tv according to friends not at work. I called and talked to his best friend, his wife, and several other people that knew about what was going on (his trip was hardly a secret). While this FBI-led nationwide manhunt was going on, he and the girl were blissfully riding the bus back, without a clue of what was going on.
The media never once checked with his roommates, his family, or his friends. They made no effort to check basic facts, or research a second side to the story. He was reported as working for Microsoft (he worked at Micron), he was reported as having a struggle with the girl evidenced by the fact that her hard drive was missing (the girl took it out herself as the computer was to big to bring with on the bus), he was listed as abandoning his wife and three kids (he seperated from her months before - and had 2 kids), he was said to have stopped by his wife's/xwifes house with his "mistress" to flaunt her (they took the bus from the greyhound terminal directly to their apartment), and so on. The damage done by the media was enough that it almost cost him his job. His workplace (which also knew he was going to pick up the girl), watched the story as intrigued as I was. He was told bluntly by his manager, that the only reason he still had his job was that the wrong employer was named.
About 2 hours after he got home the FBI found him as he walked out the door. They quickly found the girl, discovered that she was making lunch, and not the least bit concerned about having been "kidnapped". The most amusing thing was that the only fact the media got right about the story on a consistent basis was the hard drive being removed. Everything else was innacurate, and could have been easily checked. Incidentally, the FBI never even bothered to grab the hard drive the media made such a fuss about.
In the end, my friend was never even arrested, and the girl was free to stay after the greatly concerned mother could not be bothered to come up here and bring her daughter back. However those facts, like the fact that she came willingly, were never reported by the media. They were only interested so long as they had a sensationalist story. Once things turned out to be "OK" the story was dead, the media saw no need for correction. All in all I can now sypmathize with Richard Jewell for his ordeal. It is unfortunate that people who have their lives needlessly ruined by the media do not sue, as Richard Jewell did, more often.
The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.