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English Writing & Composition: Fox Edele

Jacksonville Beach Re-Opening

This was one of the most interesting cases I have found on misleading information on the Internet, so I did a "deep dive" into investigating it. Here is how I got to the truth.

As soon as Jacksonville Beach reopened, there was a flood of reports and photos from news sources-- Fox, CNN, NBC-- showing that Jacksonville Beach was crowded the day of opening. Right after that, my Facebook newsfeed was also flooded with reports that the news photos were "fake news," that Jacksonville Beach was not crowded-- some of them posting this:



I know that most claims I have seen on Facebook, particularly the ones that say things like "Don't believe what the media says" are simply not true. So, I did not pay these too much mind. However, then I saw the same claim from an ACTUAL local news outlet in Jacksonville:



So, I began searching for the origination of the photo in the first picture-- was it in L.A. or Jacksonville? Was it old or new? What I found was that these were, indeed, taken on Jacksonville Beach the day of the reopening by a photographer who sells his "stock" photos to news outlets. They were real. Other people found the same and began confronting the local news outlet, First Coast News, who quickly changed their headline not to include that the other photos were fake, just that here was their drone footage. Perhaps, they even believed they were fake based on some of the non-crowded parts of the beach they saw.

Complicating matters was that if you searched "Los Angeles County records highest daily death toll" using Google, that headline was paired with the picture of the Jacksonville Beach story. Clicking on that result, however, you would see that the picture of the Governor went with that headline while the Jacksonville Beach picture went with the Jacksonville Beach re-opening story.


Was there media bias at play with the big news organizations showing the most crowded spots of the beach or First Coast News showing the least crowded spots? Perhaps, but the photos were real and not fake news.