Major Media Fails To Fact-Check iPhone Joke

from the egg-on-face dept

Since some folks in traditional media still love to pretend that they are part of a select group of information filters that can provide fact-checked news items and that their internet counterparts cannot, I'm going to keep driving this point home: internet news groups and blogs are no more susceptible to hoaxes than major news media. We saw a wonderful example of it recently with the Manti Te'o story, in which major news not only bought the BS hook, line and sinker, but through their inaction, actually perpetuated the story. Still, while that was a story that was, at best, a very sad case of someone lying their tail off, some examples can provide a little more levity.

Such as, for instance, when the L.A. Times and UPI write up very real accounts of a very fake iPhone case that includes a retractable cup-holder. The kicker being that Network World's blog dismissed it as a prank days earlier. Writer Paul McNamara didn't miss the chance to point this out.
Hate to say I told you so ... No, wait, I'm fine with saying I told you so: That combination cup holder/iPhone case (right) that was mocked here on Friday is indeed a joke, or a publicity stunt if you prefer (and I do), according to the Dutch marketing firm that pitched it to reporters and the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo.
Yet, despite their forewarning, and despite the pure ridiculousness of a case for a phone where the largest part of the equipment holds a Starbucks coffee cup, the L.A. Times wrote about it in all seriousness.
In a video that can go toe to toe with any of the best infomercials ever made, Natwerk shows off its "Uppercup." The case is more than two inches thick, but it has a slide out cup holder that iPhone owners can use while they text with two hands or play a video game. Natwerk says the Uppercup will hold any size cup.
They go on to note that the Dutch company has thus far only raised $765 of their $25k goal, which probably should have been a sign that something might be off. They note that it might be something of a publicity stunt, but it wasn't. It was completely made up. That did not stop UPI from writing up their own piece, based entirely off of the L.A. Times article. UPI does not note anywhere that it might be a hoax or a publicity stunt.

So how much fact-checking would have been required to find out that this was all a joke? Apparently one email from McNamara, asking the marketing company responsible for this if it was a joke. Their response?
Yes, pretty much. For instance, the fact that we've made the whole thing about 3 times as thick as necessary we hoped would give away we weren't all that serious. Nevertheless, we really think it is a cool device and we would really want to have it produced so we can walk around and be cool with it attached to our iPhones.
It was a joke. So, it would appear, were the fact-checking abilities of two writers for major news media. Good thing there are blogs around to filter out their nonsense.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 12:52am

    I hope you realize that by the laws of internet irony and meme-perpetuation, someone will really make that case now, right? Just wait for next Halloween when someone shows up as a coffee cup-holding iPhone case at your party.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 1:18am

    It's like the TV chat shows that read out emails without checking the source to ensure they are credible.

    Or the radio call in show that reads out tweets without checking that the information is correct.

    I am hoping that these kind of mistakes speed up the downfall of traditional monopoly media.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Bill Lumbergh, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 1:22am

    Ummmmmm yeahhh... I'm going to need you guys to add a condom onto that case of yours mmkay.

     

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  •  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 2:32am

    love to pretend that they are part of a select group of information filters that can provide fact-checked news items and that their internet counterparts cannot

    Pure bs. Nowadays you should be careful with any source (and I include TD here as you also err sometimes). There are those who will quickly recognize and correct the err, often with help from the community (and I also hold TD as an example here) but they are more the exception than the norm.

    If they can't even do the most basic fact-check then why are they whining about intertubes competition?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Mr. Applegate, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 3:46am

      Re:

      "If they can't even do the most basic fact-check then why are they whining about intertubes competition?"

      You need to look no further than the P&L statements to get your answer. You must pay for news, didn't you know that?

       

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    •  
      icon
      That One Guy (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 4:59am

      Re:

      'If they can't even do the most basic fact-check then why are they whining about intertubes competition?'

      You just answered your own question there, because before competition popped up, there was no effective fact checking available for the average audience member, there was only what the newspaper/station presented, hence they were 'always right'.

      Competition means people are able to get different views on something, and if the facts don't match between stories, then someone is going to get called on it. And if a news source is used to being able to slack off due to 'always being right'...

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 3:17am

    Bonjour

    They can't put anything on the internet that isn't true.

    Are these the same guys that put out the story of the special iphone screw?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 3:55am

    WTF kind of name is Manti Te'o anyway? People can come up with the weirdest s***.

     

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    •  
      icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 5:23am

      Re:

      "WTF kind of name is Manti Te'o anyway?"

      Er...Hawaiian, I think?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Some Other AC (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 8:10am

      Re:

      Ocho Cinco is weird
      Meta World Peace is wierd

      Manti Te'o is likely Hawaiian, ergo likely Samoan, Tongan, or Fijian in its roots.

      I graduated from a high school with a decent about of Samoans, Tongans, Fijians. Names with this structure and such were common.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 5:02am

    Fact checking is so yesterday, only those lefty tree huggers get away with that anymore and soon the righteous patriots will put a stop to that invasive activity because it obviously assists the terrorists. Come live in GlenBeckistan where you are told what to do, think, eat and drink all the while telling yourself how free you are.

     

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    identicon
    Michael, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 5:07am

    Awesome

    I need the Galaxy S version of the cup-holder case. That thing is great! It should include a long straw.

     

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    identicon
    bob, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 6:25am

    Uh--- Nothing is factually wrong in the LA Times piece

    They don't claim that the piece is available for sale, they merely say that a Dutch firm is seeking funding. And that much was true. They were looking for money even if they didn't plan to accept it.

    And what is real in the digital space? That video is just as real as most of the non-fake Indiegogo proposals. Many of the non-fake proposals are just prototypes and simulations.

    I understand it's a joke but is it really fake if it's no different from the so-called real Indiegogo proposals? Especially the ones from the people who don't have a chance of delivering anything on time or on budget?

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 3:00pm

      Re: Uh--- Nothing is factually wrong in the LA Times piece

      is it really fake if it's no different from the so-called real Indiegogo proposals?


      Yes, it is. It's a joke, which means there is no intention to actually build the thing. That's quite a bit different from proposals where there is every intention to produce the thing. Even if the thing never gets produced, it wasn't a fake.

       

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 6:46am

    I have just one problem with the publicity stunt of this marketing firm. Unlike Kickstarter, which only pays out when the goal is reached, Indiegogo pays out whether the goal is reached or not.

    So in a sense, the Dutch marketing firm Natwerk scammed the people that donated to their 'joke'.

     

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    otb (profile), Jan 30th, 2013 @ 8:05am

    To the 3D printer!

     

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    identicon
    dev, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    im surprised

    I'm surprised that the media would report this, joke or not. There are millions of ridiculous accessories for every and any thing. I can only assumed that they were fooled because they wanted to believe in something so ridiculous. It lets everyone feel so smug.

     

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    identicon
    ViewRoyal, Jan 30th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

    The "news"

    And some people still wonder how obviously false rumors about Apple continue to be reported as "fact" by the media. :-/

     

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  •  
    identicon
    graig babby, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Marie Calvi CBS

    Marie Calvi becauful of Otis Livinston and Cindy Shu the talking too much about your personal live they say they had sex with you and some guy De Boris

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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