Flashing Object Turns Into Bird in Noaimeh…False News

AKEED, Anwar Ziadat

Newspapers and websites reported a story under the headline "Flashing Object Lands in Noaimeh, Irbid, Then Turns Into Bird," which turned out to be untrue. Security investigations proved that this flashing object was an insect that got stuck onto a surveillance camera.

The Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (AKEED) followed the news, which was first published by a daily newspaper on its website. The newspaper then removed the story without publishing an apology. Afterward, websites carried the news, with some attributing it to the original source, while others published it as an exclusive report.

The story ran as follows: "One of the workers at a ready mix concrete factory near Noaimeh Bridge, south of Irbid, was surprised on Thursday/Friday night by a flashing spherical object landing in the yard of the factory.  Adnan Akhras, manager of the factory, called on scientists, specialists, and sharia scholars to explain the strange incident. He was quoted as saying that eight workers who were at the factory saw the flashing object with their own eyes. Besides, surveillance cameras at the factory recorded the strange incident."

Other websites published the news as follows: Activists on social media sites have circulated a video, showing the landing of a flashing spherical object from the sky in a factory yard near Noaimeh Bridge, south of Irbid, on Thursday night. The surveillance cameras of the factory captured the strange object, which suddenly disappeared from the factory yard.

This news was circulated by social media activists, who offered different explanations. Some of them gave it a religious explanation and linked it to Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power, traditionally observed on the 27th of Ramadan), while others linked it to what is happening in southern Syria, considering it a military-intelligence incident. Others spoke about an object from outer space, while some people said that an insect was most probably on the surveillance camera.

Afterward, websites carried statements by a security source, in which he said that "the competent security agencies received reports on Sunday about the Noaimeh video. They launched investigations and visited the factory immediately. When checking the surveillance camera to confirm the truth of the video, it turned out that what happened was that an insect got stuck onto the surveillance camera, which appeared as a lighting object."

The security source urged citizens to seek accuracy and objectivity before circulating any videos or news on their personal pages on social media sites from other unreliable pages, whose content is greatly exaggerated.

The AKEED Monitor thinks that a news story that has high credibility requires that a journalist provide a clear explanation to readers about how it happened. The above story depended on one person repeating what other persons said, but it turned out that what was reported was untrue. This shows that some sources and eyewitnesses do not tell the truth at all times.

News has become largely dependent on video, but sometimes there are pictures that deceive viewers when they are not clear. If we carefully examine the video of the incident, we will see some persons walking in the factory yard without this object affecting them.

It is possible for a media outlet to commit a professional mistake sometimes, but the phenomenon of cut and paste helps in the spread of false news on a large scale without these outlets confirming the credibility and accuracy of the news. Besides, the phenomenon of cut and paste is a violation of the ethics of the profession and doing justice to all parties by attributing information and news to its original sources.

None of the media outlets has apologized for the professional mistake committed by publishing this news. They merely removed it. According to professional norms, apology is a fine ethical practice, which reflects a high degree of professionalism.