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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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December 9, 2011     The Catalina Islander
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December 9, 2011
 

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OP/ED BY CHRISTOPHER BLEHM On Dec. 7, The Catalina Is- lander published a photo on its facebook.com page showing the iconic Casino building erupting in flames as a helicopter fiovers near- by. The tag line reads, "full story in Friday's paper." The photo came from the 1980s TV show "Airwolf," which was to be the subject of the article in today's paper. The reaction on facebook was huge, and roughly argue, the photo increased interest in the Island). The attacks on face- book were egocentric--all about how offended that particular local Was. Not coincidentally, I have an Internet beef with some of those same locals, folks I otherwise consider friends. They forward completely sensational, no-basis- in-reality-whatsoever e-mails, and then scream and complain about them. Do you remember when "In God We Trust" was being removed from U.S. Coins? Hoax. How about evenly divided. Responses varied from the condemna- tory: "almost had a stroke, thanks for scaring the crap out of me.'" "'This is horren- dous. How could they post a photo like this without any explana- tion?! This shows a complete lack ofjour- nalistic integrity, and plain old common sense.'-' To the supportive: "Do people REALLY the photo Chris Blehm Columnist of President Barack Obama pledging allegiance with his left hand over his heart? It was photoshopped, and poorly. Yet in neither case did the people stop to actually check the facts, they simply started screaming. It's sad. I wrote scathing replies. They didn't stop the silly e-mails, they just thankful- believe this photo could be break- ing news?... It is EXTREMELY frightening to see how many peo- ple are stupid enough to not only believe EVERYTHING they read on facebook, but also rely on it for ly removed me from the list. Which brings us to the core of the issue: is the Catalina Islander facebook page something that should be taken seriously, by both readers and the editorial staff?. ing for Vons to open more than one check-out lane, but they have also broken some of the biggest real stories of the last two decades. On the local front, of everything I've written for the Islander, by far the biggest and most positive response was to the April Fool's article about Pebbly being blown up and replaced with condos. Con- versely, the one time I tried to take on a serious national issue--the death pen~ty--it crashed and burned. I couldn't believe the number of negative comments, "Why did you write that in our pa- per?" Because it's real, and more important than softball scores? Guess not. I have nothing to do with the Islander facebook page. I'd never even visited it before this week. I honestly think that the editorial staff of this paper views facebook as a, social media outlet for inter- est, photos, exposure, for fun. Anyone who takes social media seriously without vetting it is sim- ply silly. While the timingwas re- grettable, I think the outrage was fueled by those who enjoy getting angry about things on the internet, regardless of the facts. Still, if the paper wants the community to take us seriously, we should adhere to journalistic integrity--and in the paper, I be- lieve we do. Had we done an On- factual breaking news information, Get real! Awesome photo, btw!" Personally, I don't cotton to faeebook The first I heard of weight and merit. the dustup was the invitation to When I read something in the through the comments and studied the photo, a larger issue occurred to me: what is the Catalina Island- er supposed to be? I understand knee-j k negativ- ity--particularly if you don't live here. If I happened to love the Is- but resided elsewhere, that photo, particularly on a day that lives in infamy, and the wake of the near disaster of 2007, would ve sent me scurrying tO :Google to find out if it was real or a joke. I'm not sure I would've been outraged, perhaps briefly concerned, and then amused. I would've been embarrassed had I reacted to it without vetting it. One of my tbrmer English stu- dents wrote on the Islander face- book wall, "If the casino really blew up it would be all over the news ... come on everybody, use some common sense or at least Google." Sounds like he listened in class when we covered Internet veracity. Still, does the community want the Islander to be a fun loving, spontaneous, small town rag, a 100 percent serious journalistic publication, or somewhere in be- tween? Andwhat's the difference between the facebook wall and the actual paper? For anyone on the Island who expressed anger, how hard is it to look out your window? I didn't see one local express concern over the impact on visitors or image. That may have been valid (or, you could It currently boasts over 1,700 ion-like "Casino Destroyed" ar- friends, not bad for a small town ticle arid run it in the paper (other rag, so the question carries both than the first week of April), then take it as vetted. If it's an Op/Ed piece, I check for other points of view, but I rarely question factual news from a substantiated source. At the other end of the' spectrum, I enjoy Google's April Fool's Day jokes, and I split a gut when peo- ple humiliate themselves by taking seriously something published by The Onion. I don't believe every- thing I read on the cover of the National Enquirer while I'm wait- IslandM i Center we cross the line. A teaser photo from 1984, posted on a social site, ~ ligi~Ulqil~ llli~ i~ ~l~n~ out ~ Window or 10 seconds on a search engine, .turns it into a chuckle? Not so much. If that still bothers you so deeply, go complain about it on facebook --where that type of thinking belongs. Christopher Blehm is a regu- lar Islander columnist. His new novel, "Mercy of the Etements," is avai bte tocat- ly and on Kindle. Photos of a 1984 episode of the 13/show Airwolf created a stir on the Islander's facebook page when it appeared the Casino was blown up. Additional s'cenes of the show appear above. Catalina Island Medical Center's state-of-the-art Siemens CT Scanner can provide the diagnostic images needed for nearly all medical conditions.2 Simply let your physician know you would prefer to have your diagnostic imaging completed on the island. Familiar places and familiar faces No appointment needed ' Scans available immediately on CD * Images sent electronically to your physician Please call for more information. Monte Mellon, MD Tracey Norton, DO Laura Ulibarri, MD Diane Chamberlin, NP (31o) 51o-O7oo lOO Falls Canyon Road PO Box 1563, Avalon 90704 www.CIMedicalCenter.org c tTAU |Sta,D',ii ................ : ........................................................................................................................................................................................ i .................................................................... : ........... Fr6ayl 6eceAber 16,261 S