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We live in a time where rumors can spread like never before. With Facebook, Twitter and the many online bulletin board sites available to people, there is an audience watching and waiting for the latest “information” that is posted.
The problem, in many cases, is that the information they pick up from these sites is inaccurate, misleading or false. Items that are posted on these Internet pages don’t have to go through the scrutiny of an editor or anyone who will assure the details are accurate.
The recent rumor that has spread around Carrollton is a good example.
Many people around Carroll County believe that Wal-Mart is going to close the store here. They say they have heard it from folks who are in a position to know.
Some rumors blame it on Earl Floyd Ford, saying the Wal-Mart wants to add a tire center and the auto dealership won’t let them.
Other rumors say Wal-Mart officials have been talking with property owners in Sparta. There are even those that say ground has been broken and construction is underway on the new Wal-Mart.
All of these rumors are false. That’s the official word from Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson who issued a news release to quell the rumors.
“I have had the opportunity to speak with Wal-Mart management and have been assured that these are strictly rumors and they have no plans to close the store and no plans to relocate,” Tomlinson stated in the release.
Tomlinson told me that he believed he needed to respond to the rumors because he had several calls from county residents.
Before doing so, he said he first went to speak to Wal-Mart officials to make sure it was OK.
No one in Wal-Mart management here was authorized to speak to the press, and public relations had not replied to my inquiry at press time.
Jason Stephenson, the sales manager at Earl Floyd Ford, has also talked to management at the store.
The rumors have people upset with the dealership for creating the supposed problem.
He said he’s had people tell him it was their fault for not renewing Wal-Mart’s lease.
As with the rest of the rumors, that’s not true.
Stephenson said Wal-Mart purchased the property where the store is located, meaning they can do what they want with it — including selling tires.
One of the rumors had blamed the situation on Earl Floyd limiting what Wal-Mart can sell. “They can open a tire center if they want to,” he said.
And in fact, Stephenson said it’s in their best interest to have the Wal-Mart store there. He noted that Earl Floyd owns all of the land around the store and is developing some of the property.
Asked if the rumors have hurt their business, Stephenson said that it would be hard to say at this point, but that they have been impacted. However, he wants to set the record straight because it could keep people away if they are wrongly upset with them.
The News-Democrat news staff discussed the rumor and, knowing it was false, opted not to write a news story about it.
Why? Because news finds its basis in fact, something that is lacking in a rumor and this one in particular. Our news team prides itself in dealing with facts that can be verified with credible sources.
Those who took part in spreading this rumor should take this opportunity to learn something from our news organization. If you can’t check your facts with reliable sources, then stop spreading rumors.
Jeff Moore is publisher of The News-Democrat and The Trimble Banner and resides in Carrollton.