Monday night (Nov. 2) after 6 p.m. I heard a call to respond to a stabbing in Jefferson County. Several agencies were called to send crews, including K-9, set up a perimeter to search for suspects. Immediately my new antennas went up and I was on alert. I had few crews – let me rephrase – NO crews, available to send to just check out the scene. I needed information and I needed logistic plans A – D.

I waited a few minutes to give dispatchers enough time to do their jobs before I bothered them. Unfortunately the dispatcher I spoke with refused to page anyone to call me with information. I asked which Public Information Officer I should call. She told me that one wasn’t assigned and hung up. Normally when a call goes this well with dispatch it’s a signal that the situation is a possible something. If the situation is nothing, most dispatchers are up front and tell me so.

I waited 15 to 20 minutes before I called back. In the meantime I monitored the scanner and came up with various coverage plans. I discussed options with the producers, but without ANY confirmed information there was no way any crew was going to be reassigned. My alternative suggestion was overtime for a photographer just getting off shift.

I called dispatch again. I was told a PIO from the Edgewater Police Department would be assigned in a half an hour. When a PIO is called in after hours to respond to a scene, the scene is something. I updated the executive producer and asked to send a photographer on overtime to the scene. Within minutes the photographer was on his way.

The photographer called a couple of times after arriving on scene to give updates of what was happening, which wasn’t much. The police response had died down dramatically. There was confusion as to where the reported stabbing had occurred. With this information I knew the situation wasn’t big. Still I asked the photographer to wait for the PIO to arrive on scene and to do an interview with the PIO.

Two and a half hours later, an hour and half or more of overtime, we had the video and interview. A short segment was put in the 10 p.m. newscast. At 10:30 p.m. the PIO called to tell me the victim had made the whole thing up and had stabbed himself. A press release was being sent to the news desk. *SIGH*

Cops: Man Stabbed Self To Get Out Of Work made headlines on Tuesday. Twenty-four hours later it was the lead story for one of the local 9 p.m. newscasts. (Just to be clear it only got a few seconds on CBS4 News.) It was the water cooler story; the here’s your sign story; the joke story of the day.

For me, the producers and especially for the photographer kept on overtime, it wasn’t funny. It was aggravating and received many eye rolls of exasperation. It felt like a waste, yet it wasn’t. Even though it was a hoax, it was still news. Yes my brain hurt from trying to figure out how to cover it, and it cost the station overtime pay, but the fact that it was a hoax was the story.

By mid afternoon Tuesday the story of the man who stabbed himself and claimed to have been attacked and robbed just because he didn’t want to go to work, was the most commented story on the Denver Post. There was no denying this story got people to click, to read and to watch. Does this sound familiar?

The Balloon Boy Hoax is the same, yet on a much larger scale. The same principals of evaluate the limited information and follow the information through is the exact same. Follow through on the story is the exact same. It's all the same stress, aggravation and effort.

We do our job and never know exactly where a story will lead us. In today’s instant news world via the Internet and Social Media Networks, more and more of these kinds of stories will surface. Whether it’s the man on the street who witnesses something and instantly Tweets or the news reporter reporting live during breaking news, the information is given out as it’s received and perceived. Eventually though the witness can contribute no more to the story. It becomes the responsibility of the journalist to follow the story through.