Questions and sources and who to believe

I got an email from a person who provided a correction on one of my cases, which I hadn’t updated in nearly a year, but didn’t say where she got her info. I wrote back inquiring of her source (I was wondering if she knew his family or something, as the info she provided made it seem like she did), only to receive in reply a tirade about how poorly researched my site was and it was my job, not hers, to find sources, and if I was going to “insert myself into the investigation” by publicizing this person’s disappearance, I ought to stop putting out falsehoods about him, etc etc etc.

Oh-kay. One relatively minor error in one case out of 9,000 and apparently I’m some lazy layabout who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

She did, at least, provide her source, and I will make the correction. Sheesh. (And no, she didn’t know him or his family.)

Actually, inaccuracies of any kind on Charley really bother me when I find them out, especially when others have to point them out to me. But there are so many contradictions out there and I have learned that for the most part no particular type of source is more likely to be more reliable than any other. (The only kind I NEVER trust without independent verification is anonymous internet board postings. Or even many non-anonymous ones.)

A police department website’s profile of the MP is not necessarily correct, although you’d think it ought to be guaranteed. Newspapers and television can provide biased accounts, misquotes or outright wrong info. I will generally post whatever an MP’s family member tells me is the truth, but I am not usually in touch with the families (and I never cold-contact them; they write to me instead), and even when I am, sometimes they are mistaken. A lot of times sources diametrically oppose each other and it’s a matter of weighing which is more likely to be correct, or I have to post both accounts and mention that they contradict each other. I suppose any journalist — and that is, in a sense, what I am — has this problem.

I do the best I can, which is the only thing there is to do. I think most of the time I get it right, but I’m always trying to improve my average.

13 thoughts on “Questions and sources and who to believe

  1. Kristen January 3, 2012 / 12:24 pm

    I find it sad that you have to explain your site to people like that. Of course there are going to discrepancies. I’m sorry that you have to deal with irrate people like that but we all really appreciate the hard work you have put into the site. It is truely a work of excellance.

  2. Kim January 4, 2012 / 2:21 am

    Thisis off topic a little but I am mesmerized at the finding of Marx Panama Moriarty Barnes, missing since 1977. When can we find out what happened here?

    • Meaghan January 4, 2012 / 4:25 am

      I don’t know any more than you do and I get the feeling I never will. The old “the family wants privacy” thing. Which is their right, I suppose.

    • forthelost January 4, 2012 / 9:06 pm

      When I asked specifically about the case, I was told Marx was alive and well and his mother was “not murdered.” From that I can infer she probably just left on her own and took Marx with her.

      • Kim January 4, 2012 / 11:57 pm

        Ok I’m glad he was found alive but there is something wrong with this woman just taking off with the kid and disappearing for 34 years. It was not just her kid. She had to have known her and her son were considered missing not to mention she left the father wondering where is son was. I am sure law enforecement used resources and manpower looking for them. She had to have changed the boys name to go undetected for this long.

      • Aniela January 5, 2012 / 11:45 am

        Interesting. My inference from “not murdered” would be a little different from yours — I’d suspect it means she is dead, either naturally (certainly possible for a woman of her age) or by suicide. Maybe she gave the baby to friends or foster care and then took her own life, and the caregivers didn’t know they had a “missing” child?

        … I’m totally making stuff up here. Still. We will never know, and that’s fascinating.

    • Meaghan January 4, 2012 / 6:41 pm

      Wow. I have never heard of anything like this — though the runaway Dominika Smolinski was ALMOST deported (not sure where to) before she finally caved and admitted to her true identity.

  3. Liz O January 5, 2012 / 11:30 am

    I’m sorry you have these people that give “go off” on you via email. Please don’t let that discourage you. I wish people would realize that you’re not being PAID to offer this service to families of missing persons. And if I had a family member missing, I would be so grateful that your site keeps their name & face out there where the public can see & read about them. If there are discrepancies in their story, a polite email with a source is helpful, but I still don’t see the reason to get UPSET with someone who is voluntarily helping the way you are.

  4. meyahna January 8, 2012 / 5:04 pm

    I think your site is greatly researched. This woman is probably a troll who finds it funny to undermine people who do great as she herself isn’t able to.

  5. kima April 3, 2012 / 10:53 pm

    wow! I can’t believe someone would go off on you either. I read one just now about the sister making a correction, then getting madder and insisting that you remove the case altogether (how does that help her sister?), and then this ! How does a small mistake (what ever it was) warrent a tirade?
    especially when the person has no emotional involvement.
    Let’s face it, you can only report what is out there, and news reports sometimes don’t report all of the same information, or even give their own views.
    Sorry you go through that.

    • Meaghan April 4, 2012 / 11:46 pm

      It was a very small mistake. (She called it a “lie” but I wouldn’t say that.) I was giving some biographical information on the MP and mentioned she enjoyed visiting relatives in a certain state. Turns out I got the state wrong, is all. But the casefile is still up and I haven’t heard from that woman again since I wrote to her again explaining she had to refresh the page.

      I had the same sort of thing happen several years ago with a runaway who’d been found and wrote to me furious, in capital letters, threatening to sue me if I didn’t take her resolved notice off. (She was also upset that I’d used an unflattering photo of her — the only one I had.) I removed the notice and told her so — adding that all she would have had to do was ask politely and the lawsuit threat was both inappropriate and completely toothless — but she saw it apparently still there she sent me another all-capitalized email demanding to know why I’d lied to her, etc. That was when I started telling people, whenever I made corrections, that she ought to refresh the page. A lot of people don’t know about that little trick. But some of them don’t listen anyway.

      I’m not much bothered when that sort of thing happens. It is annoying, but relatives of MPs have obviously been through a great deal and are under a lot of stress, etc., and I am capable of understanding that it’s not really me they’re angry at. Most of the time I’m able to resolve things smoothly with the relatives, but there’s no pleasing some people.

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