On Wednesday, the Appalachian State University student newspaper reported on Twitter and Facebook that a popular Mexican restaurant was closing, then quickly backed off on its report in a series of tweets:
* 2:25 p.m.: We’ve heard some concerns about the information that Los is closing – working to follow up now.
* 2:46 p.m.: Los is not closing, Owner Alfredo Alvarez said. (1/2)
* 2:47 p.m.: We called this morning & an employee said Los was closing. But employee “might not have understood,” Alvarez said. Los will not close (2/2)
Some readers were furious that The Appalachian scared them with news that their favorite restaurant was closing, and let the paper know that.
“We received more feedback and engagement than we ever have when we mistakenly tweeted that Los Arcoiris Mexican Restaurant planned to close,” the editors reported.
A scolding from the newspaper staff followed:
We’re always happy to admit an oversight in our reporting process, and we’ll use the incident as a learning opportunity. Social media reporting is brand-new. There are still plenty of mistakes and lessons in our future.
All the same, however, we’re disappointed. Throughout the morning Wednesday, our Twitter timeline exploded with feedback. We even received a string of phone calls to our office.
All of a sudden, people cared—and it was all about a Mexican restaurant.
Sorry burrito lovers, in a list of the most important issues covered this year, the potential closing of Los wouldn’t even make the top 10.
We have never seen students engage with our content the way they did today. And frankly, we think there are things that deserve your attention more.
Instead of suddenly mobilizing when your quesadillas and margaritas are at stake, start engaging with issues that actually affect you—and the thousands of dollars you pay this university each year.”
Readers weren’t going to take this lecture from the people who got the story wrong. Chad Mukherjee wrote on Facebook:
Reporting that story about Los was basically slander, and that is why people are up in arms. And now you have the gall to accuse people of caring too much about their “quesadillas and margaritas”? You should really be ashamed of yourself. Arrogance will get you nowhere in life (and I could be wrong, but it probably won’t get you anywhere in your journalism career either).
And then there was this:
I’ve asked Appalachian editor-in-chief Justin Herberger to comment on this brouhaha and will post his response when/if it comes in. || UPDATE: An editor has responded and admits the tone of the editorial “was far from ideal.”
* Editorial: Los rumors pale in comparison to other issues
* Holy guacamole! College paper issues belligerent “apology”
* Editor says tone of editorial “was far from ideal”
* The Appalachian on Twitter and on Facebook