Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Phantom Stories




# 4492



One of the real hazards of blogging is the occasional resurfacing of old news stories that – for reasons that elude me – sometimes show up on the news aggregators months or even years after they first appeared.  


I assume it’s some kind of automation glitch, although where the fault lies I’ve no idea.


Over the weekend, NEWSNOW (which I use often) regurgitated several moldie-oldies, and they have been picked up by a number of websites as being `new’.



The screenshot above shows the problem.

  • The first story, (dated April 10th) about a bird flu outbreak in India is actually from December, 2008.
  • The second story, about China culling chickens is from the same date.
  • The story about scientists developing a new basis for an H5N1 vaccine is from January of this year.
  • And the one bird flu vaccine production is from last February.


While the original dates of these articles are intact, sometimes they are easy to miss.  I live in constant fear that I will be duped by one of these phantom stories, and have come closer than I’d like to admit on more than one occasion.  


To make matters worse, several Internet `news’ sites have rewritten these stories (without citing the original date), passing them off as new events. 


As a result, the Chinese culling story – which dates back to 2008 – is now making the rounds on Twitter, and a number of bird flu sites.


Unless you specifically recognize the details of this story (and there have been lots of stories over the years), you’d have no way of knowing that this report is 16 months old.


While I do my best to make sure that the information I present here is accurate, no one is infallible.  I’d be more critical of the situation if I wasn’t keenly aware of how easy it is to be duped.


The old adage Caveat Lector should apply to anything you read in the media, online or otherwise.


Even here.

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