In recent weeks it has come to our attention that a website dedicated to Puerto Rico news has twice managed to cause headlines locally and even internationally, reporting on information that was either incorrect, or completely unsourced, to the point that other outlets, though not all, have felt compelled to correct the record.
We are talking about NoticiasPRTV, featuring Abel Durant, former news anchor of NotiSeis, the news program of the public broadcasting station WIPR.
On first instance, on August 21, the site reported that Republican presidential contender Donald Trump had said that he would “revoke U.S. citizenship of anyone born in Puerto Rico.” While we would not rush to the defense of Trump, and as much as it is believable that he would make such a statement, the fact is that there is absolutely no record of such a statement being made. The website stated that the statement was made in a speech in New York to a group of investors, as told by source of an unnamed south american newspaper.
Latino Rebels jumped in, and after vetting the story, determined it was not true. Unfortunately their journalistic effort was not mimicked by several news outlets, including sites like Noticel, EFE America, TuNoticiaPR and War Against All Puerto Ricans (this last one later issued a correction). Even local politicians like Cirilo Tirado from the Popular Democratic Party, and Manuel Rodriguez Orellana from the Puerto Rican Independence Party, took the bait of the story, reacting to Trump’s alleged statements. The story was enough to prompt a firestorm on social media, and to this day is still up on the website.
This scenario then was reenacted after reports surfaced that due to Puerto Rico’s government policies, PayPal was suspending person-t0-person payments. NoticiasPRTV published a piece stating that in addition to this, ebay purchases would also no longer be possible in the territory.
In this case, Tecnetico, a website dedicated to technology news, jumped on the case and clarified that the headline was not true, much to the government’s content, stating clearly that ebay would continue to operate in Puerto Rico. Nevertheless, the headline was enough to spread confusion in social media. The story was then pulled from the website.
In researching this story, we also became aware that last year, the management of the WIPR channel had to disassociate themselves from the website and its social media accounts, since its name is confusingly similar to the channel’s name.
These two incidents are enough to prompt concern as to the veracity and trustworthiness of reports coming from the website in question. They should also alarm officials, companies and any person with general interests who could be affected by misinformation and false reports, that as we have seen, spread like wildfire through social media, and other news outlets who do not do their due diligence before reporting.
In precarious, confusing and worrying moments such as the one Puerto Rico is currently facing, we should all strive for accurate responsible reporting, and as of know, NoticiasPRTV has failed to meet that standard, and should reevaluate its reporting standards.
Until then, be careful what you read from them, because not everything you read on the internet is true. We read that on the internet.