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.

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Comments on “Major Media Fails To Fact-Check iPhone Joke”

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20 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

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?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 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’…

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

bob (profile) says:

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?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

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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