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

Leonard Woolsey: 409-683-5207; leonard.woolsey@galvnews.com

(7) comments

Carlos Ponce

This is not the only example of MSM trying to be first and not properly vetting sources. Time magazine, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the Austin-American Statesman all failed here but ABC News, NYT, WAPO, etc. have hidden behind anonymous sources which have been proven false in other national stories usually concerning the current presidential administration. But here there was a name. So easy to check. And the story he told seemed "plausible". The main emphasis should be get the story right. Instead it is get it fast - before the competition. The problem is not new. In my current favorite rerun TV series, "JAG" (Judge Advocate General) which dates to 1995- 2005, the JAG officers, US Marine and Navy lawyers, lament about the "fake news" put out by a fictitious cable news outlet ZNN. Often the Left misquotes the president as saying "the free press is the enemy of the people". Not what he said nor posted. What he said was, "FAKE NEWS is the enemy of the people".

Bailey Jones

In an age of instant 24/7 news, bad info often gets out. As you say, it's a competition. In the old days, networks produced news as a public service, now it's a profit making enterprise, and the profit motive often creates poor decisions. But I would suggest that news outlets that end up correcting their stories are not "fake news". Fake news are the outlets that continue to report the same lie over and over, even after it's been proven false. A couple of recent examples are the birther nonsense, and the scandalous claims made by Alex Jones (on just about any topic, but in particular) about Sandy Hook and other shootings. If you ever listen to NPR, they precede any newscast after an event like this with the warning, "this story is still developing, information may change over time."

Gary Scoggin

Bailey... great distinction. Outlets that make corrections are not fake news.

Robert Braeking

I wonder if the faker was doing it for self-aggrandizement or if he was planted by some group to advance a narrative. In either scenario he failed.

Bailey Jones

It occurs to me that this guy is cut from the same cloth as Alex Jones and the rest of the ghouls who perpetuate the myth of government staged mass shootings and "crisis actors". (The fact that this guy was so easily proved to be a liar just shows how ridiculous that myth is.) Just another sad, pathetic, loser looking for attention. Just another source of pain and grief for the families and community.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Unfortunately, I know first hand that it is not only the competitive race to be first with "breaking news" that drives newspapers, tv news, magazines, etc. to report inaccurate information as fact. It is also the result of laziness and simple incompetence. No reporter can be expected to have comprehensive knowledge of a broad range of subjects but, there was a time when they took pride in investigating a story, its background and context, and in seeking out sources for statements and information on multiple sides of a potentially controversial issue. Too often, I have been aware of the true details of an incident that was reported in both top-tier and lower tier media outlets based solely on whatever they had been told, without any effort to determine if the source had an agenda that skewed the information or rendered it completely false. If this occurs in stories that a person happens to have detailed knowledge of independently, then one must presume it is also true of the stories that the news consumer has no direct knowledge of, as well. Whether people get a news story they have no personal knowledge of from a legitimate news outlet, whether major or minor; they believe it.

Charles Douglas

Two things about a lie: 1) A lie loves a liar! 2 ) A lie don't care who tells It!

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