Wikipedia Hoax

Irish student Shane Fitzgerald conducted an experiment to test whether journalists blindly rely upon wikipedia as a source of information. Shortly after composer Maurice Jarre died, Fitzgerald placed a false quote on the wikipedia page about him, claiming Jarre had said: "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."

Sure enough, the quotation soon appeared in newspapers throughout the world. Why is this no surprise? [Yahoo]

Journalism Websites

Posted on Thu May 07, 2009


I wonder how many reporters got it from Wikipedia, and how many reporters simply copied it from each other?

And Maurice Jarre died? I hadn't heard about that.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Thu May 07, 2009  at  04:19 PM
YOU should try doing something like this! (Think of the publicity it would give your site, too. Just make sure it's not illegal or something...)
Posted by The Laughing Fish  on  Thu May 07, 2009  at  09:49 PM
Wait! You're telling me some of the stuff on Wikipedia ISN'T fake?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri May 08, 2009  at  02:04 AM
Clever hoax! I wonder about *all* the information today foisted off in all forms of media, frankly. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th hand half-heard and misinterpreted stories. This reporter, and others like him: brilliant reporting! Congratulations--you have the intelligence of a 7 year old.
Posted by Charles  on  Fri May 08, 2009  at  06:08 AM
Accipter, quite right; Most news is simply passed along from one news service to another these days, so it takes on truth in the way Aldous Huxley described in 'Brave New World'; "Twelve thousand seven hundred repititions per week equals fundamental truth."

Hmmmm . . . how many time sdid they repeat the alleged footage of the papnes impacting the WTO? 😊
Posted by D F Stuckey  on  Fri May 08, 2009  at  03:34 PM
This has happened before: when TV theme composer Ronnie Hazlehurst died, newspapers printed that he had co-written the song 'Reach' for the group S Club 7, since it was included in his Wikipedia biography.
Posted by PB  on  Sat May 09, 2009  at  05:58 AM
I must admit to being unimpressed. It's not like it's such an implausible or controversial quote - why should anyone assume it would be likely to be fake? Is it some major misrepresentation of Jarre or something?
Posted by outeast  on  Mon May 11, 2009  at  03:23 AM
Just as with a dictionary, encyclopedia, or history book, Wikipedia is a source that most of us turn to as a suitable reference guide though we know that pretty much anyone can add to the ingredients. We take for granted that 'someone' will be 'fact-checking'.

We know that encyclopedias and history books become skewed according to the society residing at the time they were written.

Most newspapers have fact-checkers but this indicates that speed is what drives ratings apparently AND no one can depend upon the reliability of any human story delivery.......!
Posted by hulitoons  in  Abingdon, Maryland  on  Mon May 11, 2009  at  07:42 AM
Someone recently did something similar in Germany. Our new minister for economics has the full name Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. No, that is not a hoax, but when he got appointed, someone inserted a "Wilhelm" somewhere in there in the German wikipedia article, and of course the fake version appeared everywhere in German media. The hoaxer admitted this in the popular media watchblog
At the time I'm writing this, the English wikipedia article about him contains the fake name "Noddy" between Maria and Nikolaus. (Yes, Maria can be part of a boy's name if it's preceded by male name(s). No idea why.)
Posted by Lars Dietz  on  Tue May 12, 2009  at  01:42 PM
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