A SPOOF story about the fugitive Raoul Moat has been reproduced as reality by the previously ‘respected’ AolNews website.
Brown waxed lyrical about how 800 schools nationwide had closed in readiness for a bloody shoot-out, while the CBI confirmed that many companies would stop work to watch a potential bloodbath live on their TV screens.
The article also quoted a fictional media analyst about the role of the broadcast media and a fictional local resident Elsie White, aged 71, about the poilice siege of the village of Rothbury in Northumberland.
Elsie was quoted as saying: ” I can hardly wait for the climax. We haven’t had a live event like this to enjoy for quite some time and there’s only old Doctors episodes on at this time of day.”
But the spoof was apparently swallowed hook, line and sinker by Aol News contributor Carl Franzen, who quoted extensively from the spoof for his front page article: Britain Breathlessly Awaits Bloody Shoot-Out Between Raoul Moat, Police
Mr Franzen, who is presumably now in hiding somewhere, is described as a web journalist who has written articles and designed pages for Meredith Corporation, MSN UK and The Atlantic Wire. You can follow him on Twitter.
Quite how this blunder happened is a puzzle, since even the most brain dead contributor ought to have spotted the satirical overtones of The News Grind.
Draw your own conclusions about the state of modern journalism and the reliability of web-based news.
Meanwhile congratulations to Robin Brown who has spread the news on Twitter and written his own take on the extraordinary state of affairs: Is the media beyond parody? Aol reports spoof as news