Fake stories, enemies of news media


Since Oct. 15, Spain has suffered a wave of fires affecting Galicia’s region. These fires have calcined 35,000 hectares just in Galicia and have killed four people.

The victims were two old women, 80 and 88 years old, who died when they were trying to flee in a van, and two men that were trying to extinguish the fire. The number of deaths in Portugal has risen to 30 people.

Most of the fires were arson attacks. Two people have been arrested as the alleged originators of the fires. The first one, Miguel Angel, accused of setting fire to his farm when he was cooking with a barbecue. The second one, Maria Luisa, who was burning weed in her house.

But the government of Galicia, the Xunta, has qualified these fires as forest terrorism. The Xunta has suspicion that some of the other 146 fires have been started by an organized gang.

In that situation, when a whole country is focused on the issue, there are a large number of impressive photos with more impressive backstories. One of the most popular photos, in this case, has been the photo of a dog carrying a carbonized puppy. It was taken by the photojournalist Salvador Sas for the EFE agency.

The picture flooded social networks and accompanied many of the news media articles about the fire. Everybody knew about this mum dog, Jacki, carrying her own dead puppy. That was the story that many people are sharing. Everything right, so far. The problem occurred when a journalist discovered that the story attached to this photo was fake.

Jacki wasn’t a female and the dead puppy wasn’t his.

This is the article that uncovered the truth.

The owner of Jacki, recognized to the newspaper La Voz de Galicia, that her dog didn’t have descendants and that he was carrying a rabbit to eat, far from the story that was spread.

It is maybe an insignificant story and nothing will change after knowing the gender and the story of this dog. But once again, it is an example that news media publish and broadcast news without verifying. They seem to be following emotional criteria or mirroring everything that leads to success on social networks to attract the attention of an audience. Then, they correct the news en bloc. But it’s too late, the bad practice has been done.

If this has happened at this time, it could happen with other more relevant stories and the consequences affecting the reputation of the news organizations and society’s reliance on them would be far worse.