Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wikipedia 1, Journalism 0

So here's the story: Oscar-winning French composer Maurice Jarre died on March 28. Soon after he heard about it, a media student in Dublin created a too-good-to-be-true but totally fabricated quotation and added it to Maurice Jarre's Wikipedia entry just to see what would happen.

Here's the quotation: "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 was designed to be a great quotation to put in an obituary, too good to pass up.

The quotation didn't stay on Wikipedia for long. It appeared without an attribution, and Wikipedia's mass of volunteer editors checked it out and quickly removed it. But not quickly enough to keep dozens of blogs and newspaper Web sites, including the UK's The Guardian, from reprinting the fake quote.

A definite warning about trusting everything you see in Wikipedia. You can read more about it here.