Akeed - Majdi Qoussous - Social media users shared a news item on Facebook, and the messaging app WhatsApp, claiming that summer would start later this year in countries around the world due to recent improvements in the condition of the ozone layer.
The piece being shared attributed this news to “meteorologists” as a collective source. Media outlets within Jordan and across the Arab world spread the news without investigating who the meteorologists were, or what monitoring center they were affiliated with. In the process, they committed a professional violation by omitting the source of the information being shared.
The news piece stated that there was a “90% decrease in environmental pollution,” a piece of information that has been found to be untrue. Akeed reviewed several articles shared by media outlets in the first week of May, issued by environmental and energy specialists in the Arab world and globally, which indicated that the decline in air pollution after the global imposition of social distancing measures ranged from 30% to 40%.
According to information published by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), air pollution in the Northeast United States (US) declined by 30%. Other reports found that air pollution in Turkish cities and surrounding countries declined by 32%, compared to a 40% decline in air pollution in regions in and around Egypt, according to official statements issued by those countries.
Akeed affirms the necessity of abiding by the professional guidelines that govern journalism, including not citing collective sources except within limited cases where the statement being made is clearly and explicitly collective. Journalists should also explicitly cite their sources, and avoid errors in numbers and data in order to ensure achieving the highest degree of objectivity in journalistic work.