The Internet Can Make You a Chump—Forever!

IN THE NEWS
Limbaugh Taken In: The Judge Was Not Loaded for Bear

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Anyone listening to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Tuesday could be forgiven for thinking that Judge Roger Vinson has the federal government dead in his sights … Apparently, Mr. Limbaugh had fallen prey to an Internet hoax … On Sunday night, and again Monday morning, someone identified only as “Pensacolian” edited Judge Vinson’s Wikipedia entry to include the invented material. The prankster footnoted the entry to a supposed story in
The Pensacola News Journal. The article—like its stated publication date of June 31, 2003—does not exist. The same person who posted the information removed it on Tuesday afternoon, Wikipedia logs show.
—Kevin Sack, The New York Times, Sept. 15, 2010

When I started out as a copywriter, novelist and non-fiction writer, research meant endless clipping of newspapers and magazine articles, schlepping down to a local library to spend hours chasing down leads in books, magazines and scrolling through endless reels newspapers on microfiche. Today, what took five days at the library can be accomplished in 20 minutes from any computer in the world with Internet access.

Trouble is, the Internet is rife with misinformation and if you get caught advertently or inadvertently propagating this nonsense in a report, memo, article, letter or book, you will look like a chump. If your careless work finds its way onto the Internet, it will follow you to the grave.

In the world of research, separating out the bogus from the true takes work.

Example: The Bill Munro Quote
W. Carroll (Bill) Munro was a neighbor of my father’s in upstate New York. A big, gruff, hard-drinking iconoclast, he penned three novels in the 1950s, went into advertising in the era of “Mad Men” and wound up as vice president and marketing director of Pepsico.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.
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Comments
  • http://LocalInternetMarketingServices Local Internet Marketing Services

    Hey Denny, Great to see you blogging. It was a long road from local library to all these mambo-jambo blogs. Well, I have to agree with what you’re saying. I personally use both systems, depending on what I am doing. When I search for information, I rely on at least 3-4 sources. On library try to do the same. What I don’t like is how younger people think that the Internet is the ONLY source of information and it’s the best! And its annoying me that even my son refuses to read books and prefers the Net. In my humble opinion, nothings compare to the feeling of having a book on your hand. This experience can never be attained in front of a computer. Val

  • http://Security Security

    Good article.

    I like the way you’ve laid out how best to use Wikipedia. If the focus was solely on avoiding Wikipedia, readers would probably stop reading there. Wikipedia comes up in almost every search!

    By laying out how it can be manipulated and fact checked, and how failing to do that may backfire, you’ve agreed to the validity of referencing a widely used source, though you’ve qualified that by explaining it’s a first step rather than a final one.

  • http://leapierce lea pierce

    Nicely said, Denny. I was trained as a “classic” journalist, so I vote for two independent sources.
    Lea Pierce

  • http://JoanneEckton Joanne Eckton

    somewhere I read a comparison of the internet to a community. Just like you need to determine the truth or fiction of what you hear at a cocktail party, you should do the same for everything you read or hear about online. Just because someone prints it doesn’t make it true.

  • Akshay Gupta

    nice post http://www.internetmarketing-advertising.com/ internet marketing