Niagara Gazette Irresponsibly Reports on Story Without Proof; Retraction Demanded￼
By: Patrick Balkin
On Wednesday, September 14th, around 12:08pm, the Niagara Action received a confidential tip of the bomb threat at Kalfas Elementary School. Four minutes later, a report was published on Facebook and Twitter referencing an alleged bomb threat the school.
NIAGARA FALLS ACTION: according to unconfirmed reports, a bomb threat was made at Kalfas Elementary School on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022, causing an evacuation and sheltering in place. We will provide an update once more information becomes available.
The post was then updated an hour later to reflect that the school had been cleared.
UPDATE: with the assistance of multiple law enforcement agencies the school has been cleared.
Shortly thereafter, the Niagara Action learned that the threat was made via email and the post was updated again.
UPDATE: with the assistance of multiple law enforcement agencies the school has been cleared. The bomb threat was made via email and is being investigated.
The Niagara Gazette then published a story alleging that the Niagara Action published a report stating that there was a teacher at Kalfas Elementary School with a gun. The article then proceeded to quote Superintendent of School Mark Laurrie and Police Chief John Faso, both of whom slammed Niagara Action for publishing an incorrect report.
The article states that Laurrie and Faso heard of the post and what it said from “parents at the school.” However, at no time did Laurrie or Faso see such a post before irresponsibly commenting to the Niagara Gazette. Nor has either of them since seen such a post as of Thursday morning.
At no such time was there a post published by Niagara Action regarding a teacher at Kalfas Elementary School with a gun. The Niagara Gazette did not verify the existence of such a post before publishing their article. Nor has anyone else proffered any evidence that such a post was ever made after the fact.
It is disturbing that two high-ranking members of our community would publicly comment on an allegation to a media outlet without verifying the claims they were making. I am sure we can all agree how irresponsible such actions would be in each of their respective positions as Chief of Police and Chief Education Officer in Niagara Falls. However, that is exactly what they did.
The Niagara Gazette took down the original article that was published around 9:00pm on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022. The Niagara Action commended that fact considering the initial story was blatantly wrong with absolutely no fact checking on the part of the Niagara Gazette.
In a newly released story by reporter Rick Pfeiffer, published on Thursday, September 15th, 2022, it has become clear that true investigative journalism does not matter to the Niagara Gazette. The entire article is a combination of “he said / he said” accusations with absolutely no facts or support provided for the assertions made by those quoted. It is, in essence, an editorial piece disguised as a news article.
Even the title, “Kalfas School Cleared After Bomb Threat; Officials Blast False Report,” assumes that there was indeed a false report made. However, as Rick Pfeiffer admitted to a reporter from this publication, he has at NO TIME seen such a post; nor has anyone he spoke to.
That being said, the Niagara Action has compiled some facts for the Niagara Gazette to use if they wish to write a retraction:
- The Police lied to reporter Rick Pfeiffer about a reporter from the Niagara Action being at the scene on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022. Video evidence was provided to the Niagara Gazette proving the claim to be untrue and that the reporter in question was at home.
- Neither Mark Laurrie or John Faso saw any such post by Niagara Action referencing a teacher with a gun.
- Rick Pfeiffer, in about an hour of investigative journalism when first publishing the story on Wednesday, did not talk to anyone who saw any such post by Niagara Action referencing a teacher with a gun. Nor did Rick Pfeiffer see any such post himself.
- Evidence was given to the Niagara Gazette showing that the Niagara Action received a tip at 12:08pm regarding a bomb threat at Kalfas Elementary School. Four minutes later at 12:12pm, this was published on both Facebook and Twitter.
- No screenshots of an incorrect post have been shared on social media.
The Niagara Action is demanding that the Niagara Gazette amend their story and remove any such mention of a “false report” as there was no such information disseminated, nor anyone who could corroborate it.
There was a time that the Niagara Gazette had standards for their reporters where journalistic integrity was of the utmost importance. It is clear now that reporters at the Niagara Gazette simply publish anything they believe will sell newspapers; even if it’s devoid of facts and based entirely on crude exaggeration and sensationalism.