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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Journalism
Fake News On Your TV
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 06, 2006
Status: advertising disguised as news In Hippo Eats Dwarf I discuss Video News Releases (VNRs) and how their use means that a lot of the news we see on TV is either advertising or propaganda in disguise. (VNRs are video segments created by corporations or the government, that are then aired on TV news, often without their true source ever being revealed). RAW STORY reports that "over a ten month span, 77 television stations from all across the nation aired video news releases without informing their viewers even once that the reports were actually sponsored content." The article cites a…
Categories: Advertising, Journalism Comments (2)
CNet April Fools Article
Posted by The Curator on Sat Apr 01, 2006
Status: Journalistic errors CNet has an article about April Fool's Day hoaxes on the internet. It has some interesting info in it, but surprisingly it makes two rather large errors. First of all, it describes the Microsoft iLoo (an internet-enabled portable toilet) from 2003 as an April Fool's Day hoax. Microsoft announced the iLoo on April 30, making it a real stretch to describe it as an April Fool's Day hoax. But more importantly, although Microsoft did initially say the iLoo was a hoax, it later changed its mind and admitted that it was a real project. And that was the final word from them about it. The article…
Google Hires 15-Year Old
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 14, 2006
Status: Hoax 15-year old Tom Vandetta found a neat trick described on the internet: how to upload a fake press release to a free wire service, and get Google News to pick it up and disseminate it, thereby making it look like real news. Of course, he couldn't resist trying this trick out, so he decided to write a release from Google itself announcing that they were hiring him: (I-Newswire) - 15 year old student, Tom Vendetta has been hired by search engine giant Google Inc. The student will receive a lowered salary, which will be placed into a bank account for future education, said Google CEO Larry Page. When asked what role Vendetta will play…
Categories: Journalism Comments (18)
The Disappearing Blonde Gene
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 28, 2006
Status: Hoax reported as news Peter Frost has an article in the current issue of Evolution and Human Behavior in which he argues that the trait for blonde hair evolved 10,000 years ago in northern Europe because men found blonde women to be attractive--and because there were more women than men, the women had to compete for the men. (I'm simplifying his argument a lot.) But I'm not bringing this up to make a point about Frost's article. Instead, I'm bringing it up because the London Times discusses his article and concludes with this observation: Film star blondes such as Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Sharon Stone and Scarlett Johansson are held up…
Categories: Journalism, Science Comments (32)
Woman Clings To Ice With Her Teeth
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 08, 2006
Status: Undetermined Ananova, All Headline News, the Mumbai Mirror, and a couple of other highly reputable news sources are reporting a story about a Hungarian woman who fell through the ice while ice skating, and stopped herself from drowning by gripping the edge of the ice with her teeth: The 29-year-old woman was practicing on Lake Velence when the ice cracked and she fell in. With frostbite setting in and her hands unable to move, the only thing left was to grip the edge with her teeth. After being rescued doctors say her quick thinking saved her life. This boggles my mind. If it was so cold…
Categories: Journalism Comments (19)
Elephant Loose in St. Petersburg
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 19, 2005
Status: Hoax Ananova reports that an elephant is on the loose in St. Petersburg: The animal, which was being transported through Russia by an unnamed Finnish company, escaped from its container by smashing through its walls. There have been a number of sightings around the city but no one has tried to catch the elephant yet. But it appears that Ananova has done its usual thorough job of fact-checking, because the Moscow Times reports that the elephant was probably a hoax: St. Petersburg police were looking for a mystery phone caller on Thursday after spending much of the night looking for an…
Categories: Animals, Journalism Comments (5)
The Bear on the California Flag Should Have Been a Pear
Posted by The Curator on Sun Nov 13, 2005
Status: Hoax A reporter for Inside Bay Area (I don't know his name... it's not given with the article) recently recounted how his granddaughter told him that the bear on the California flag was originally supposed to be a pear. Back in 1846, Capt. Jedediah Bartlett, leader of a band of rebels fighting against the Mexican authorities in California, supposedly drew up a flag for the future state. He thought a pear, as a symbol of the region's agriculture, would be a fitting symbol. But his instructions were misread and the flagmaker inserted a bear on the flag instead of a pear. The error…
Categories: History, Journalism Comments (15)
Planet-Dissolving Dust Cloud Headed Toward Earth
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 20, 2005
Status: Fake; an example of the Weekly World News Effect. I've received a couple of emails about this article on Yahoo! News detailing a cosmic "chaos cloud" that will obliterate the earth in 2014: CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Scared-stiff astronomers have detected a mysterious mass they've dubbed a "chaos cloud" that dissolves everything in its path, including comets, asteroids, planets and entire stars -- and it's headed directly toward Earth! Discovered April 6 by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the swirling, 10 million-mile- wide cosmic dust cloud has been likened to an "acid nebula" and is hurtling toward us at close to the speed of light -- making its estimated time…
Categories: Journalism Comments (18)
Fake Quotes in Newspaper
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 31, 2005
Whenever I see the opinion of a 'man on the street' quoted in a newspaper, I always wonder if the quote is for real since it would be so easy for a reporter to simply make something up without interviewing anyone. Now here's a case, at the Reidsville Review, where that actually happened. The reporters invented quotations, but, strangely enough, attributed the quotations to real people. They should have just gone ahead and put the phony quotes in the mouths of phony people: The newspaper's "Two Cents Worth" feature includes a small picture of a person, along with their name and response to a question. But on several days in May the item apparently featured…
Categories: Journalism Comments (15)
Phony Seal Hunt
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 18, 2005
The latest nugget of fake news from the world of journalism concerns a seal hunt that never took place. A Boston Globe writer, Barbara Stewart, described the slaughter of baby seals off the coast of Newfoundland in great detail. What she didn't know was that the hunt had been delayed, and so hadn't begun yet. Oops.
Categories: Journalism Comments (12)
Fake Sports Reporter
Posted by The Curator on Sun Apr 17, 2005
As a representative of Westchester Cable Services, Mark Sabia has been allowed into press boxes at sports games for years. The one problem is that Westchester Cable Services doesn't exist. The teams finally figured out he didn't belong there (but it was a good scam while it lasted): Sabia, who lives in Ossining, was arrested Monday when he showed up to cover Opening Day at Shea and was charged with scamming season passes for almost all of New York's professional teams, as well as for several World Series and League Championship Series dating to 1998. He was charged with five felony counts of falsifying business records and 16 misdemeanor counts ranging from petit larceny…
Categories: Journalism, Sports Comments (5)
Jeff Gannon, Ace Reporter
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 11, 2005
So this guy Jeff Gannon shows up at the White House and wants press credentials so that he can attend the President's press conference. But his real name isn't Jeff Gannon, and he isn't really a reporter, although he's been playing one on the internet for a few months. His experience as a journalist seems to consist of posting slightly reworded Republican press releases on the website of Talon News, which is a conservative news outlet that hardly anyone has heard of (and which is also a barely disguised front organization for Republican activists). Oh, and this Gannon character also claims to be a born-again, bible-thumping, red-necked conservative, but he also seems to be connected to…
Categories: Journalism, Politics Comments (39)
Worst Weatherman Ever
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 26, 2005
Here's a video going around showing what has to be, quite easily, the worst weather broadcast ever. It's so bad you begin to suspect that it was staged. But I don't think so. It seems to be a student-run news show broadcast by Ohio University Public Television. Not to be harsh, but this guy should really think about pursuing a different career. Reporting the weather doesn't seem to be his thing. Update: Apparently there's a few more weird weathermen videos going around (weird weathermen must be the internet meme of the moment). One shows a weatherman in North Carolina
Categories: Journalism Comments (19)
Actual Headlines From 2004
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 05, 2005
I received an email containing this list of THE YEAR'S BEST [ACTUAL] HEADLINES OF 2004! But, of course, these aren't really headlines from 2004. This list has been going around for at least four years. Check out this competition from 2000 in which people created images to match some of these headlines. Plus, I doubt any of these were ever actual headlines either.Crack Found on Governor's Daughter.Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says.Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers.Iraqi Head Seeks Arms!Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?Prostitutes Appeal to Pope.Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over.Miners Refuse to Work after Death.War Dims Hope for Peace.If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile.Red Tape Holds…
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Journalism Comments (7)
Most Dubious News Stories
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 08, 2004
Alan Caruba, Founder of an organization called The National Anxiety Center, has published a list of the 'Most Dubious News Stories of the Year'. Some of the entries include: The University of Szeged in Hungary announcing that mobile phones may damage men's spermReuters reporting that tens of millions of people in America may drown when a volcano in Africa cataclysmically collapses into the sea (though scientists only think this will happen 'sometime in the next few thousand years')The New York Times reporting that the collapse of the Earth's magnetic field has begun in earnest (again, look for the effects of this to become evident in a couple of thousand years) However, although Caruba has a point about…
Categories: Journalism Comments (19)
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