Updated: March 12, 2016 4:57:18 pm
As more and more fake content is created for the sake of virality, it seems it is becoming easier for media to fall prey to these silly posts.
In the latest such incident, a handful of Indian media outlets, including some mainstream ones have fallen prey to one such post. The story starts with a report that Germany had its first ‘Grammar Nazi Parade’ at Berlin on March 6 –grammar nazis are those who take it upon themselves to correct the world’s language and have nothing to do with those who ruled the Reichstag for a few years last century.
The report said 64,000 people attended the parade holding placards; one of them read ‘I before E, except after C’. Organiser Jon You’reson even blamed technology for the increasing ignorance of grammar and spellings, warning the world will end up using emoticons instead of words by 2050 at this rate. “If the world wants to progress, it needs to be able to spell and structure sentences correctly. We don’t ask for much, only that everyone adheres to the same grammatical laws laid out by their own language,” he was quoted as saying.
As is the norm with viral stories, a literal overdrive of plagiarism ensued, at the cost of journalistic safeguards and best practices.
No one bothered that the original source of the news was Waterford Whispers News, a satirical news website famous for its funny takes on anything and everything under the sun. It is very much like India’s Faking News and to avoid people taking them seriously, their disclaimer clearly states that it’s a “fabricated satirical newspaper and comedy website” and that it “uses invented names in all its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental”. But then who reads disclaimers these days.
Confirming that the article is fake, WWN’s content creator Colm Williamson told Indian Express.com in an email conversation: “Of course, it’s fake. We’re having a good laugh reading the articles being reported.”
Interestingly, even many on social media could figure out that it was a satire.
Some news outlets are getting trolled hard by this “Berlin Grammar Nazi Parade” satire: https://t.co/rKtvIE71hf
— Mededitor (@Mededitor) March 11, 2016
I’m pretty sure this is satire, but I want to make a video of it regardless. :D… https://t.co/yIE1YPPNrN
— Grammar Nazi (@GrammarNazi1O1) March 11, 2016
We do understand that the pressures of online journalism often leads to web stories not having the luxury of getting the editorial treatment of a print story. But that does not mean you hit delete on logic and news judgement too.
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