David Briscoe told reporters he was a substitute English teacher and in a classroom on the day of the Santa Fe High School shooting. He was not.
Last week’s report of a false witness injecting himself into top-tier media outlet stories about the May 2018 shooting is disappointing. It also serves as an important reminder of how local and national news organizations may differ in their approach to such events. Simply put, standards and local relationships matter.
Recently, the Santa Fe Independent School District confirmed it had no record of Briscoe working for the school district.
Several national and Texas news organizations have since corrected articles about the shooting in Santa Fe High School after the school district said a man quoted in their articles falsely claimed to be a teacher at the time of the shooting.
Time magazine, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the Austin-American Statesman all issued corrections after quoting a man named David Briscoe.
The Daily News did not quote David Briscoe or use him as a source.
One might question how this happened. The truth is in relationships — or in this case, the lack of local relationships.
Representatives from all corners of the media universe descended on Santa Fe, hungrily in search of a story. The staff at The Daily News, however, continued to do business as it does every day — with an eye to community relationships and standards. Doing so means working through existing channels, carefully fact-checking sources to accurately tell the stories. Such relationships cannot be built — or earned — in a single day. Briscoe, on the other hand, reportedly used a social media platform to gather his initial attention.
To our staff, the people with whom we spoke were neighbors and deserved to be treated as such. Grabbing ahold of questionable sources or reports, while tempting to some, does not meet the standard of our newspaper or staff. If anything, the fact-checking in these situations becomes even more critical to prevent unintended damage to occur for the community. Odds are there were probably more stories and rumors left behind in our coverage than any time since Hurricane Ike or Harvey.
We thank those in the community who helped us accurately tell these important stories. With their help in critical areas such as background or stepping forward to confirm information, they allowed Galveston County to receive locally vetted information.
Additionally, to whomever David Briscoe turns out to be, he should be ashamed of the opportunistic pain he brought on others. By injecting false facts into the stories, he clouded and potentially confused those trying to understand and heal.
• Leonard Woolsey