WOTS

Rome Public Works crews demolished homes on King Bee Circle and this residence on Ross Street last week as part of an ongoing effort to remove dilapidated housing across the city. Opening up vacant lots to smaller multi-family units was one idea discussed Thursday as part of the solution to a housing shortage in Rome.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about possibly changing the name of this column to something like Word on the Web. That seems to be where so many folks seem to get their “news” nowadays.

A lot of you are reading this over breakfast Sunday morning but there’s a good chance a whole bunch of folks are reading this for the first time late Sunday night, or Monday night, maybe Wednesday morning on the web.

I’d like to think that if you are reading this online, you’re on the Rome News-Tribune website as opposed to Facebook. I don’t Tweet so I don’t even know if this gets re-posted on Twitter.

It’s not that I am completely opposed to Facebook. I have an account (if you’re inclined you can like me) but I use it largely as a way to share personal stuff with folks who are friends or family. I communicate with some of my cousins via Facebook when I ought to pick up the phone and actually talk with them. Shoot, I could even FaceTime with them. That’s almost like being there isn’t it?

I darn sure don’t get my news directly from Facebook or other social media.

Social media reminds me of the old game where everybody gets in a circle and someone whispers a phrase into someone’s ear and they start to pass it around the circle. It’s amusing to see how distorted it is by the time it gets all the way around the room.

I was at the big housing summit Thursday at Georgia Northwestern Technical College but did not see any other “conventional” media representatives at all. As best as I could tell there weren’t any bloggers there either. So if you’ve heard something about that day-long session, chances are you’re getting it from someone who told someone who told someone else. If you’re lucky, you’ve spoken with one of the more than 100 people who were there.

I say this not to pat myself on the back, but I WAS there!

I rarely see any other “reporters” at functions around town anymore. The place where I see them most is at the jail. I guess that says something about what folks want to read about. Crying shame.

Some news folks watch the city and county commissions on the Library Channel. That’s at least an effort but then you can’t ask questions afterward, or get clarification on something you might not have heard well.

There’s nothing better than actually being there. In this world, where so many folks are getting their “news” free on the web, traditional media is finding it more and more of a challenge to hire folks to be there in person. There’s a salary and benefits to be paid.

We read a lot on social media from people who claim they didn’t have any idea that this or that was going on. Virtually every meeting I report on is open to the public. The very first item on the agenda for the airport commission last week (after reading minutes of the previous meeting) was “Public comment.” But there was no public to comment.

I couldn’t help but get a little amused last week about the social media whining about SPLOST funds and the new indoor tennis courts. Spoiler alert: The indoor courts are being funded by city bonds!

I have no problem with anyone who questions use of bonds for the facility. At the very least they are basing their objections on facts. I can respect that.

When the tornado ripped through Adairsville several years ago, at least three people I was “friends” with on Facebook — two of them real life friends — messaged me to tell me about where a fatality was and let me know there were cars overturned on the Interstate. Everyone of them was wrong!

All this to say ... be very cautious about some of the “news” you get on the web. Know your sources and don’t be afraid to question them.

Associate Editor Doug Walker is always looking for news and tips about area businesses. Email him at DWalker@RN‑T.com or call 706-290-5272.

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