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.