For all the worry about Jayson Blairs and bamboozling bloggers, there’s a larger culprit afoot who has been duping readers, government officials and news agencies alike for years: The Onion.
We’ve been regular readers of The Onion for sometime and respect it not only for its approach to humor but its unrelenting adherence to AP style. Bravo. Ironically, it is this straight-laced style, which keeps fooling unsuspecting readers – from Deborah Norville to the Beijing Evening News – on a daily basis.
This story from Wired takes a brief look at the roots of being duped.
Many people who mistakenly believe Onion stories do so in part because the stories are e-mailed around endlessly, often to the point where the source is no longer clear. But Taylor doesn’t think much of that as an excuse.
“Average readers do themselves no disservice if they’re skeptical about every news story they read fake or not.”
– Chris Taylor, the San Francisco bureau chief for Time magazine
Latest surveys say that people are becoming more skeptical about traditional media, yet people are getting the wool pulled over their eyes everyday from not just harmless Onion stories but Nigerian e-mail scam artists and urban myths du jour.
Clearly people need help ferreting out bogus stories and claims. As we wrote in We Media, news sites should engage and educate their audience on how to flag a hoax in this dynamic, expanding news space. Turn those readers into watchdogs and broadcast the conversation.