In the summer of 2005, the world was informed by Times of India of Aishwarya Rai’s plans to wrestle with a 380 pound woman and date a former male stripper on a reality show. The article even named its source: a website called spoof.com
At that time, a neophyte blogger speculated whether the word “spoof” in spoof.com had set off any warning bells in the minds of those responsible for this most amazing article. He also wondered whether the newspaper concerned had any editorial control over what was published under its name.
[The original article was pulled down by TOI, it’s cache too has vanished into the ether. Thankfully the text of the article is still here]
Of course this was hardly the only example of stellar journalism over the years. Fake boy genius wins fake prize at NASA. Bhojpuri star is feted by the press for being the first living Indian to have a stamp released after him only for the media men to have a “pipe main hoi jaayi soo” moment once it is brought to light that anyone can go to a certain website, pay a certain number of Euros, upload his digital picture and have his mug on an official Dutch stamp. Yes anyone. Including the ones who ran this story without bothering to do some elementary fact checking.
I should mention at this point however that I am no journalist. Which makes it difficult for me to judge what is fair use in Indian journalistic practice and what is ctrl-c ctrl-v.
From the Times News Network (no byline):
What do dating a married man and devouring a hot fudge sundae loaded with almonds, whipped cream and lots of sauce have in common? Both taste devilishly good, and both are sinfully bad for you. Sure, it’s human nature to want what you shouldn’t have.But while the ice cream concoction might expand your hips, loving someone else’s man can twist your heart in ways that are infinitely more disturbing than a little weight gain and much harder to bounce back from. [More]
From IVillage, Lure of the Married Man written by Sherry Amanstein
What do dating a married man and devouring a hot fudge sundae loaded with almonds, whipped cream and lots of sauce have in common? Both taste devilishly good, and both are sinfully bad for you. Sure, it’s human nature to want what you shouldn’t have.But while the ice cream concoction might expand your hips, loving someone else’s man can contort your heart in ways that are infinitely more disturbing than a little weight gain — and much harder to bounce back from. [More]
Recently, several newspapers carried the strange case of a 88 year old Nazi war criminal named Bach, who had killed many Jews in a concentration camp called “Marsha Tikash Whanaab”, being nabbed by “the intelligence wing of the German Chancellor’s core” in Goa while trying to sell a rare piano. The only problem, as all of us no doubt already know, was that the whole thing was a hoax that originated from some journalists from Goa , the people behind the blog “Pen Pricks” who had circulated a bogus press release. [Read details here] in order to expose what passes for mainstream media reporting.
At the bottom of the above linked post, look at the long list of eminent newspapers that fell for the gag hook line and sinker. Yep. Noone bothered to do a Google search on the name of the war criminal or on the concentration camp. Noone paused even a second about the address of the “German chancellor core”‘s domain-name: berlin.com or bothered to actually type berlin.com in the address bar. And while most of the newspapers (The Indian Express, Times of India..) merely paraphrased the bogus press-release, the Telegraph went further and added more than a bit of cheese –perhaps trying for the Pulitzer and the Booker at the same time.
Here is the link of the Telegraph article in Google cache –the original having been removed from the online edition.
Note the beautiful map that highlights the path of the noted war criminal with only Yemen being listed as “unconfirmed” no doubt hinting, not so subtly, that the rest of the locations are indeed “confirmed”. Note also the information obtained from “IB sources”. Also admire the additional layerings of truth, over and above the press release, that would not be out of place in “Odessa File: The Goa Chronicles”—- how “Bach smelt a rat” and how “he realized he was being followed and slipped into the woods”—-of course forgetting to add that the surprisingly sprightly 88 year old Nazi metamorphosed into a vampire and would have flown away had not IB’s special investigator, a man named Van Helsing, put a stake through his heart.
Of course very soon the venerable Telegraph did a volte face, claiming to have detected a “whiff of a hoax” [link] ( just like one detects the whiff of a human presence in the adjacent cubicle of a public latrine) when they reportedly “tried to follow up” the incident.
Ahem. Once again.