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Opening Arguments


Any old Nigerian scammer can fool most people, but it takes an Irish college student to fool professional journalists:

When fans across the globe read of composer Maurice Jarre's death at the end of March, they were treated to a charming quote: “One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. 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.”

It's cute, but the thing is, Jarre never said it. Irish college student Shane Fitzgerald did, on Wikipedia.

[. . .]

 The quote and, weeks later, retractions were published in the Guardian, the London Independent, the BBC Music Magazine, and in Indian and Australian papers. Fitzgerald said he expected bloggers to fall for it, not so much the mainstream press. The quote was posted without citation.

So beware of what you read on the Internet. We've had our experiences with Wikipedia at the newspaper, and now there's a rule: Use it to get background material that can be verified elsewhere, but don't cite it as a source.  The concept of people aggregating their own encyclopedia is an intriguing one, but

Posted in: Current Affairs