What the Media Got Wrong About Sweetwater

Residents of Sweetwater, Texas say the news has it wrong about an oil bust.

By Alain StephensJanuary 16, 2015 1:53 pm|

You can’t talk about the Texas economy without talking about oil. Its flow of can forecast the fate of the state’s well being.

So it’s disconcerting to read stories like the Associated Press report on Sweetwater, Texas. The story described a small town promised prosperity from an oil boom – only to have it slip from its grasp as falling gas prices make ventures less profitable.

The story reads like something out of a work of fiction. And according to some of the residents of Sweetwater, that’s because it is fake.

Texas Standard tracked down Michael Buckner, manager of Buck’s Steaks and Bar-b-que, a restaurant referenced in the AP article. Buckner was disappointed about how the town was portrayed.

“I was kind of angry, the way it made Sweetwater sound,” Buckner says. He alleges that the article misquoted and altered photos to paint a narrative that just isn’t true – particularly the image of a dried up ghost town.

‘They made it look like it was nobody,” Bucker says. Buckner maintains that, despite reports, the town’s recent string of upgrades had been long running and long earned, citing a majority of the business being derived from the cement industry and a nearby wind farm.

The AP hasn’t remained silent though. In a statement from an AP official, the news outlet claims “our reporter spoke to a wide array of current and former town officials, as well as industry experts and economists, to report accurately.” In addition they say that any claims of photo manipulation are false.

But regardless of what the Associated Press declares, Michael Buckner says he feels the town has been slighted by the media giant. “We’ve been in business for over 21 years now – and we have steadily grown all those years.”

So what do you think? Did the AP get it wrong? Let us know in the comments.

A pump jack siphons oil outside of Sweetwater, TX. The town has been under scrutiny after claims that it's local oil business has floundered.

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