While interviewing some folks for an article that I was writing about the local horse industry, I heard a comment repeated that I’ve heard from time to time during the 20 years that I’ve lived in Parker, Colo.
I was told that Douglas County (Colo.) has the largest horse population per capita in the nation.
Since I was writing an article for the Parker Chamber of Commerce’s annual magazine, I decided it was time to try and find someone who might know if that claim is actually true. Yes, I’ve heard it for years. Yes, the person who said it recently also has heard it for years.
The information was repeated, but it was never actually verified. It was time for me to put on my reporter’s cap and do some digging into the truth.
Guess what? I couldn’t verify the claim. In fact, after making calls to numerous people involved with horses and the horse industry statewide, most said they didn’t know. Only one person said he doubted the statement could be true and gave me some information that would lead one to believe that no way could the claim be factual.
The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was crazy to believe the same claim for 20 years – especially with the area’s incredible population explosion over that same time period.
This is a good lesson for citizen journalists and writers of all kinds. Just because you hear a statement of so-called fact repeated over and over, does not make it true. It is always best to find an expert who should be able to tell you whether the information you’ve heard is factual or absolutely absurd.
So don’t repeat everything you hear as fact – even if you’ve heard it for years and from multiple people. Do your due diligence to uncover whether the information is a myth or reality.
Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/)