Over the last few days, we have received a few emails about a photo we published alongside a story last week.
The article titled “Johnnie’s Tap patrons may have been exposed to COVID-19” was published on page A1 of the July 22 Clinton Herald digital edition and page B1 of the July 23 printed edition. In the story, we let readers know there was an exposure at the bar in Fulton, Illinois, as reported to us through a press release from the Whiteside County Health Department. We then selected a Clinton Herald file photo of Johnny’s Tap, taken in March 2019, to run alongside the story.
As is our practice, the story was posted to our Facebook page.
It is that posting that seems to have caused some upset among those who saw it on Facebook.
That’s because if readers only read the social media post without clicking into the story, they saw just the photo, the story headline below and the post above that reads: “Exposure to the virus could have occurred Monday, July 13 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., July 15 after 6 p.m. July 16 after 6 p.m. and July 17 after 6 p.m., officials said.”
As a result, some readers jumped to the conclusion we were pointing to the bartender – in our file photo – as the one who possibly exposed bar patrons to COVID-19. We did not write that in the post or the headline or the story. In fact, when readers look at the photo in our full print or digital editions and read the caption of the photo, it clearly indicates the photo is a Clinton Herald file photo from March 2019.
Social media has made it more challenging to convey everything in proper context to readers who read just the headlines and who don’t click into the story to read all that is there.
The Herald is not singling anyone out; that was not our intent. It simply was a file photo the Herald took for a prior story about this business.
We are asking all our readers in print, digital and social platforms to take the time to read a story before making such a leap.