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The value of accurate information

by David Specht

I came across the following article from NPR.

“How many times per year does a gun go off in an American school?

We should know. But we don’t.

This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting.” The number is far higher than most other estimates.

But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the government’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.”

The rest of the article goes on to give background information on how there could be such a divide between verifiable numbers and those being quoted.

The disheartening thing about all of this is the effect it is having on parents and students alike.

With such a heightened sensitivity to the idea of school shootings, bad numbers being reported adds to the hysteria.

This problem is not about politics, nor the pushing of an agenda. Simply put, bad numbers are unacceptable.

In a similar vein, we have a president who tweets out anything he wants to on a daily basis, with little regard for underlying facts. These two trends are both damaging and unwise.

We in the press rely on credible sources to provide accurate information for us to relay to the general public. Such discrepancies as we have seen in this instance completely undermine those efforts.

Hopefully, having this problem brought to light will help stem the tide of misinformation and, dare we say it, fake news.

David Specht Jr. is editor and publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.

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