A re-post of a NASA memo that appeared on NASA Watch, SpaceRef, and later Universe Today suggested NASA will not be creating new versions of the highly-popular social media events known as “Socials.” This created a bit of an uproar from fans of these events. The belief that “Sequestration will Cancel NASA Socials” – is, at best, at least somewhat, inaccurate. In an effort to clarify the fate of NASA’s Socials, AmericaSpace reached out to NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications Bob Jacobs for clarifications regarding the posts.
“We expect socials to continue as usual. The suspension of outreach activities gives us time to assess the complete suite of communications efforts across NASA. Nothing has been canceled. The fiscal realities of the sequester and our budget require us to focus on mission critical work and to review resources across the agency. There is a clear process through which waivers will be provided for offices engaged in communications and outreach. It is important to remember that the fiscal year budget is more than $1 billion less than originally requested. We are being financially responsible with the reviews underway as a result of sequestration,” Jacobs said.
Seeking to confirm that NASA won’t be cancelling any established events and will be hosting new ones, we pressed Jacobs if this was, in fact, what would actually be taking place. We asked Jacobs the following:
Note to readers – AmericaSpace is removing the reference to NASA Watch as it was incorrect (NASA Watch never stated that sequestration would cancel Socials). Mr. Jacobs was asked if the rumors that emerged after the posts on these websites were incorrect. Here is his response:
“That is correct. We have registrations open for more events, and we expect those to go forward as planned,” Jacobs reiterated.
However, we did not let up (we hope Mr. Jacobs can forgive us—it was late Friday evening). So, we pressed him about whether or not new “Socials” will be planned and held.
“Yes. I think people are missing the forest for the trees. The review is not related to social media. It is for all public outreach, education, and public communications activities. It is much more broad. Most NASA social events are executed with existing media support resources for agency missions, and we expect those to go forward uninterrupted.”
Knowing that these events have had a tremendous impact on both space enthusiasts and novices alike, it seemed odd that NASA would stop planning new ones. AmericaSpace noted that the story had appeared on Universe Today as well. It was at this point that we opted to go to the source, because Universe Today’s article appears unsure about the veracity of the NASA Watch and SpaceRef reports (this has since been amended out of the original post). The PDF appearing in NASA Watch and SpaceRef is accurate – however, it does not appear that the interpretation that this memo will see the end of the NASA “Social” – is not. Somewhere between NASA Watch’s original post and when the information appeared on Universe Today – the rumor that NASA was cancelling all “Socials” originated. We’d like to thank Bob Jacobs for ensuring our report was accurate.
Jacobs responded one last time:
“Well, since I plan them I expect them to go forward. I can’t say it any more clearly. NASA social media activities will continue.”
We at AmericaSpace feel it is the responsibility of the outlet that originated a post to correct misunderstandings that stemmed from that post (even if these misunderstandings are not their fault). We mistakenly reported something that was factually inaccurate – and apologize for this oversight.
Regardless, there does appear some debate on this. The repost of a NASA memo was picked up by another outlet & started these inaccurate rumors. So we wanted to pose the question for discussion. Do you think an outlet has a responsibility to correct confusion for rumors that stem from their posts? Or does the responsibility lie solely with the reader?