Headlines yesterday screamed: Man burns feet on cruise ship! Burns so severe his leg was amputated!
The article originally appeared in the Daily Mirror and the curiously seamy topic was picked up by travel bloggers everywhere. But here’s the thing: It’s a non story. And none other than John Honeywell, the Mirror’s own travel blogger (http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/captain-greybeard/2010/07/cruise-amputee-wont-give-up.html), had the wisdom to say so.
In fact, one place you did not read about the Ocean Village passenger who claims he burned his feet on an over-hot pool deck, was Cruise Critic. That’s because when we first heard about the passenger’s lawsuit — in 2008 — U.K. editor Kelly Ranson investigated the claims. She recalls, “as tragic as it is that his injuries were so severe they required amputation, there were a number of inconsistencies in the story that seemed out of line.”
In the end, we did not write a news item on the story then and we won’t write one now.
One of Cruise Critic’s big mantras internally, when reporting on news stories, is a very simple one, gleaned from grammar school: “Do your homework.” It’s not enough to take one person’s tale at face value. It’s also unacceptable to reprise an article that appeared in a newspaper or online media outlet by simply repeating the facts without doing our own diligence. As such, we spend a lot of time chasing stories that seem on the surface to be quite riveting but that in the end don’t pan out as legitimate. And in that case, as in this case, we don’t write them.