When composer Maurice Jarre died on March 28, 2009, many of the journalists given the job of writing an obituary for him turned to Wikipedia for information about his life. There they found the following quotation attributed to him: "One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear."
Although the quotation was unsourced, it nevertheless made its way into a number of newspapers including the Guardian
, the London Independent
, and the Sydney Morning Herald
. However, those words did not belong to Jarre. They belonged to Shane Fitzgerald, a twenty-two-year-old student at University College Dublin. He had added the fictitious quotation to Jarre's Wikipedia page the day after the man died. Wikipedia editors twice deleted it, but the third time Fitzgerald added it, it managed to remain on the site for 25 hours, where it was then seen and copied by reporters.
Fitzgerald exposed his hoax a month later by sending a letter to newspapers. He explained his deception as an experiment to explore the relationship between the media and the internet. He told the Guardian, "My aim was to show that an undergraduate university student in Ireland can influence what newspapers are doing around the world and also that the reliance of newspapers on the internet can lead to some faults."
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