Filmmaker Gives Newspapers Bogus Stories To See If They Fact Check

from the guess-what-he-found-out? dept

Rose M. Welch alerts us to the news of a filmmaker who wanted to see how much fact checking newspaper do, so he started calling them with totally made up "tips" about celebrities, and discovered that many of them were quickly printed with little to no attempt to fact check them at all. To be fair, the stories were all sent to UK tabloids, and the tabs aren't exactly known for their thorough reporting standards -- but still, given how often we hear about how bad new media online publications are at basic fact checking, it's worth pointing out that just because you print on paper, it doesn't mean there's any more fact checking. At least with online stories, people can respond quickly (often in comments or on their own sites) and challenge things. In print, it's much harder to see what others are saying on the same topic.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    Tabloids are tabloids. In other news, the sky is blue.

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

  • identicon
    yogi, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    Nothing new

    The majority of the so called news is PR releases, which nobody cares to check anyway and other forms of political, economic and cultural propaganda.

    If you rely on the papers for anything more than gossip and football scores, which, surprisingly, are still reported without bias, than you deserve what you get.

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

  • icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:33pm

    $50 bounty the first person that can verifiably prove they got a relatively well-circulated tabloid to print a story including pictures on the existence of ManBearPig....

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

  • icon
    edt (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    Bogus reports from filmmaker

    It didn't take a filmmaker to deliver bogus reports for fact checking... the newspaper industry will print anything; they rarely fact check. Especially true when it's an article we-the-reader know the subject, and often say... that's not how it happened, it isn't the truth... thus, the reason the print and tv media deliver sound-bites

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:47pm


    While over here in the US the federal gov't would give those tabloids protection under a shield law while denying it to most bloggers.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    The Real Story Is...

    The real story here is that this guy really didn't even release bogus stories to anybody until he camp up with the story picked up right here. His real motivation is to see how quickly people will jump on stories of fact-checking failure.

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

  • icon
    Griff (profile), Oct 28th, 2009 @ 6:00am

    Same 20 years ago

    When I was at University 20 years ago an acquaintance called either the Times or the Telegraph science correspondent and told them Cambridge University Eng dept now had working superconductors at temperatures far less cold than anyone had ever achieved. After a half-hearted attempt to check the story, the journo ran it and may I recall have lost his job in the end.

    Not a tabloid, and well before digital news stole the paper media's profits.
    Nothing new here.

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

  • identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Fact checking

    Right on, and add to that editorial "compression" to put the story in an assigned spot.

    I still remember (with horror) an article in English that talked about some bad things that happened in Brazil, and said that a source had blamed it on drug dealers.
    I read the SAME story in Spanish, which said the SAME thing, but then said that on further checking the reporter had found that the police were primarily responsible.
    It appears the police had planted the "source" story to divert attention from their activities (all too common in the US as well, IMO).

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

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