Why I Fooled The Biggest News Outlet in The World – A Report

EDIT: An Apology For Those That May Have Been Hurt by My Report- https://nextgenerationblogs.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/an-apology-of-sorts/

The New York Times. A fundamental backbone for news-giving to Americans and global readers alike. Since 1851, readers have relied upon it for reliable and viable news from the local area and international affairs. I thought their research was thorough and exact, providing the world with the top-quality content we all associate with the name ‘The New York Times’.

I wanted to perform a little experiment for a report with the help of my friend, Sadrak Ramirez, to see if a reporter performs adequate fact-checking of information given. Our target event occurred around; Dylann Storm – The Charleston Shooter.
A test with the sole purpose of reporting on inadequate fact checking.

I want to make a change for the better, to make reporting a truthful yet equally enjoyable experience. No falseness, only the very best news.

Step One – Infiltration

Sure, this all sounds like a James Bond movie of espionage and spying, but it isn’t. It is much easier. Pathetically easy. In fact, it was so easy, we didn’t do a damn thingCoincidentally, Dylann had ‘added’ Sadrak on Facebook a few weeks prior to the shooting. After the shooting, we can only but assume reporters sifted through Dylann Roof’s Facebook friends to interview each one in the hopes that one of them had the juicy story they craved. Instead of dismissing it as ‘a random add’, we took this as our ‘infiltration’. Rather than us seeking out attention from reporters, they came right to us.

Step Two – Planting The Seed

This step was slightly more challenging, but that did not take away from the fun and creative nature of the task at hand. All we had to do was create a structure of a story to tell each reporter, each one varying in craziness and variety, but each with similar links. This was more of a test for the reporters, to see which ones would swim from the bait and which ones would belly-flop. Obviously, the reporter in question from The New York Times took the bait. Someone had to, right?

Step Three – Elaboration 

Now the ‘challenge’ began. Yet again, it was fun, but God it was hard. For this, we had to elaborate off the ‘backbone’ we had implemented. Think ‘story time’ in school, or your wildest dreams coming true. Instead, this was a fabricated web of hilarious yet believable lies. We chose to focus on the “Brony” scene of “My Little Pony”, emphasizing the fact that Roof was a major Brony. We also wanted a bit of best modern-day internet can give; memes. We told this reporter that Dylann was obsessed with 911 ‘memes’. Of course, we have no way of knowing if this is true. As we expected, the New York Times reporter took to this like a fat kid in a candy store. No questions asked.

During this step, we had to ensure that no discrepancy was given, no contrasting points. This was by far the hardest part, but let me emphasize one thing; by ‘hard’, I don’t mean ‘child-labor-for-ten-hours’ hard or ‘maths-exam’ hard, I mean, “Oh damn, I had to slightly think about that one” hard. Situationally hard, intellectually easy.

Step Four – Credibility 

Ah, the number one thing for a reporter to bear in mind when taking an exclusive story. “Make sure your source is real, make sure it is credible and make sure you have proof.” All of this was missing with us, so where we lacked in credibility, the reporter lacked in basic intelligence.

Lets give an example; I told her that Dylann Roof had some ‘elusive’ and mysterious Tumblr page in which he posted his deepest thoughts. Without providing any screenshots or ANY proof of its existence other than my own word, the reporter published it as fact. Oops.

A note to any would-be journalist, or one that has ‘made it’, always check the credibility of your sources. It may just save your career, or at least, your integrity.

As you can see, the steps are fairly simple, and evidently successful.

Now, this is NOT some aimless trolling to mess around with the news, it is a report. A report to see how weak a report has to be for a reporter to take it as fact, and a report to see how easily a wholly false testimony could be used in one of the worlds most accredited news sources. It comes with the hope to better reporting, so that in the future, reporters take more care. I love every company that brings forth news, but I call for better reporting, so that the public aren’t fooled. So that they get the truth of the news in an equally enjoyable manner.

Now to name;

Frances Robles, correspondent for New York Times. Took the bait fully and posted the following on an open article which remained publicly viewable for a few hours:

Boston Globe, also a large news outlet that thought it would be wise to copy the entirety of the original N.Y.T article, including my fictional account, and leave it open to the public for numerous hours without validating the content:

In conclusion, I want to express how utterly disappointed I am at the corresponding reporter, Frances Robles. Not only was she vague at obtaining ‘facts’, her actual obtaining of such facts was done so very clearly effortless and lazy. So to put it simply, sort out your reporting. You don’t want false news spreading to your readers, do you? This isn’t a personal attack, because I love the work you do. I just want you to see an issue you weren’t previously aware of.

Clearly you could tell I wasn’t a legitimate source when I quoted to you, “I’ve never met someone as apparently troubled as him since my old friend in primary school who used to lick people’s chairs!”  Seriously?!

I want to be a journalist to bring positivity to the company I work for; to show the thoroughness and care needed to create a successful article. Sure, I may not be the first to break some news, but at least I know the content will be true, accurate and helpful to the reader.

This report was made with the sole intention of highlighting the weakness in modern day reporting, and to drive me to be the opposite. No matter whom I may work for, the content I will bring them will be the sole truth, because there is nothing a reader likes more than truth. It will be content that I can verify, and it will be content that will not embarrass the hiring company. Most importantly, it will be enjoyable truth, because we as readers hate nothing more than enjoyable lies.

The audience is the best tool of the trade, so take care of them. Post responsibly.

-Benjamin John Wareing


{Reviews}

“An important revelation, if a depressing one.”

“It’s the nature of online reporting and it’s depressing as hell!”

“If a 16 year old can highlight this, there IS a big issue.”

“Wonderful and insightful report.”

“Fantastic research/ experiment!”

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76 thoughts on “Why I Fooled The Biggest News Outlet in The World – A Report

  1. Absolutely brilliant. Frances is definitely going to have a talk with her boss. Great job guys! Exposing the mass media to see hiw stupid its reporters are sometimes.

    Like

      • That’s a pretty massive generalization you’re making. Believe it or not, there are actually moderate liberals out there who can call out the extremist lunatics. It’s not a pure matter of “The Right is right, the Left’s full of crazies.” I’m a liberal myself, but I’ll be damned before I get lumped in with the social justice wielding, anti-expression, overly politically correct “special snowflakes” in the far left.

        Like

  2. This is eye opening… If it was this easy for you to plant false facts in a story about the biggest racial massacre we’ve seen in a long time, think about the inaccuracy of regular news reports.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a historical moment for the Internet. This goes to show how reliable the mainstream media really is… It’s not. And you proved that today.

    Score: 9/11

    Not enough jet fuel memes for Frances Robles to look at. -IGN

    Like

  4. Pingback: Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Chaos Patch (#67)

  5. And this just goes to show the amount of effort that “professional” news reporters actually put into a story. I mean if the NY Times is this easily corrupted, who’s to say any other “professional” media source is worth believing at all.

    Moral of the story: Check your fucking sources retards.

    Like

  6. I’m a little concerned with the idea that this could be seen as an isolated incident, when it likely is the new procedure all news outlets follow to maintain relevance. Quantity VS quality rules now. Get the info out quick without any verification.

    Like

    • It could be seen as that, but I know categorically that isn’t true. The concept of “quantity over quality” is the bit I’m trying to change.
      We, the public, want to read news that is of quality reading that is wholly true, rather than a mass of information that is partially false.

      Like

  7. Pingback: New York Times falls for Dylann Roof "My Little Pony" hoax | Fusion

  8. Pingback: Teen Dupes New York Times Into Reporting That Dylann Roof Was A Brony | The H2O Standard

  9. Pingback: Teen Dupes New York Times Into Reporting That Dylann Roof Was A Brony,PrideNation Magazine

  10. Wow! Absolutely amazing! It’s CERTAINLY true that American news media is over-sensationalized, and obsessed with ratings over getting the true story. It’s a true tragedy, what has happened in Charleston, but this is an exquisite opportunity to point a finger at the WRONGNESS that infects modern news media!

    I don’t even care that you used My Little Pony as part of the dupe. One of the core message of MLP is love and tolerate. You can still be unique, and not be like everyone else, but you still tolerate their differences. Using MLP makes the dupe even sweeter! XD

    This murderous monster would never have been able to tolerate a show that promotes things like “the unification of the different pony tribes” or “overcoming fear and prejudice to accept the zebra”…

    No seriously… The zebra episode was way back in season 1!
    This racist nut job would have blown a gasket watching MLP! XD

    Like

    • “the WRONGNESS that infects modern news media!”

      Wrongness = Leftism

      The are in charge of the educational system as well. It’s over y’all. The right is so busy working and living their lives that they failed to keep an eye on the evil of the left taking over the government and all the institutions set up to serve the public. The left is running wild with the ball under their arm and the right is sitting around criticizing it, but not doing anything about it. Bye Bye America.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Teen Dupes New York Times Into Reporting That Dylann Roof Was A Brony | TotallyPopCulture

  12. As much as I respect you for doing this in the first place, this only worsens the reputation that most bronies already have. A lot of people-not all, but a lot-think bronies are these disgusting pieces of evolutionary feces. For example: http://www.ign.com/boards/threads/and-this-is-why-i-will-forever-hate-bronies.250079795/ Granted, I’ll freely admit that there are people like that in the fandom, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t mean you have to drag the entire fanbase down with them. People are gullible, sometimes surprisingly so, and I’m relatively certain that there will be people who read your hoaxes and subsequently think bronies are all like Dylann, disregarding this post entirely.

    I do not hate you. In fact, I think what you did was remarkable, and that more journalists SHOULD take heed on what they’re receiving. Is the show more important than this? Goodness no, but there’s no need to drag down a fanbase that’s already had a hard time in the media. Just type ‘Bronies are’ in Google search and see what comes up. Some people just believe the vocal minority is the silent majority.

    Like

  13. Well, you’re fairly young so I can imagine how much of a shock it was to learn that reporters are not like us. They have higher ethics (which means that they’re compelled to take everyone seriously no matter how outlandish their statement might be to a normal person) and less common sense (which means that they take a lot longer to realise that someone’s taking the mickey) than regular people do.

    Like

    • And that’s the exact notion that I will be changing when I become a journalist; to have an up to date grip on reality whilst still being able to deliver the breaking news and whatever I be reporting.

      I had an idea they were like this, so it wasn’t a shock as such, but it was more dismay. Dismay that the NY Times evidently have such low standards of news-digging

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: New York Times falls for Dylann Roof "My Little Pony" hoax | Fusion

  15. Pingback: Teen Tricks New York Times Into Reporting That Dylann Roof Was a Brony

    • This young man, Ben, is brilliant, but he is a victim of current education which doesn’t place value on spelling, nor grammar. Over time, Ben will learn to spell all the words that a great mind like yours already knows how to spell. However, your grand ability to spell ‘verify’ doesn’t make you smart, or intelligent, nor will it give you enough class to accept a few spelling errors when comes from someone as smart and intelligent at young Ben is. Ben is actually doing something to make America a better place … what are you doing, not a robot? I mean other than criticizing him.

      Like

    • Many anonymous people. They’re targeting me because they misunderstood my inclusion of the term “brony”, a group of people that enjoy My Little Pony.

      They’ve taken it upon themselves to attack me and my family and because of this, I regret mentioning My Little Pony.

      Like

      • Wait … So, you’ve shown that one of the primary pillars of a functioning republic is rotten and crumbling, and the haters are focusing on your casual reference to a cartoon? Wow, just – wow.

        Like

      • Yeah… There are a lot of immature youngsters in the fandom that take offense to ANY kind of negative depiction of the fandom. They throw a tantrum over the first thing they read, regardless of the true nature behind it.

        They fail to fact check… You know… like some people out there who write fiction for the papers… >_>

        They also fail to take to heart any of the relatively COMMON SENSE lessons the show tries to teach…
        It gets annoying. ╱)⤳⁔⤺(╲

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Calling Out The Media #2: New York Times Calls Dylan Roof A Brony - Not Particularly Pauciloquent

  17. Pingback: NYT public editor: Failure to check resulted in ‘My Little Pony’ embarrassment - The Washington Post

  18. A Pulitzer prize winner did almost no fact-checking…

    It doesn’t shock me anymore.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of Ryan Holidays, “Trust Me, I’m Lying”, but he talks alot about stunts like these and how little fact-checking reporters often do. He also mentions the concept of “working its way up the chain” in reference to planting stories at smaller blogs which then work their way up to medium sites and then to national ones. You were able to skip that almost entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. With many people already having an irrational hatred of Bronies, it might have not been the best choice as it just adds fuel to a fire of hatred.

    If that wasn’t your intention I understand, but it did do damage. Actions have consequences and I think it’s unfair to pile more onto an already attacked fandom.

    Like

  20. Indulge the conceits and assumptions of their world view, and they will practically race to their keyboards to report what you’ve told them. That’s because they’re a bunch of ideologues posing as journalists.

    Note also the push for ever more credentialism as they try protect their information monopoly from “guerrilla” journalists. In the USA there are even politicians like Diane Feinstein arguing for a system of licensure that would limit the 1st Amendment’s press protections to “proper” journalists only.

    You do a service to all truth seekers any time you punk these guys. Nice work.

    Liked by 1 person

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