22 year-old college student beats most of the media

May 12th, 2009 by Brian Leave a reply »

Shane Fitzgerald, a college student in Ireland, posted a fake quote on a French composer’s Wikipedia page. Before Wikipedia could take the fake quote down, many news companies took the quote and ran with it as truth.

The fake quote:

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.

Beautiful quote and beautifully fake.

When Fitzgerald e-mailed the major news agencies to reveal his hoax/experiment, only a few admitted their mistake. This quote from the Associated Press article echoes my sentiments:

He said the Guardian was the only publication to respond to him in detail and with remorse at its own editorial failing. Others, he said, treated him as a vandal.

“The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn’t use information they find there if it can’t be traced back to a reliable primary source,” said the readers’ editor at the Guardian, Siobhain Butterworth, in the May 4 column that revealed Fitzgerald as the quote author.


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