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First post: Christmas, spam and blogs

With Christmas upon us, email circulars are reaching crescendo but one particular example of blog-spam caught me eye. It displays all the classic traits of low quality journalism:

  • recycled ‘news’ from a foreign source;
  • total lack of fact-checking, to the point of comedy;
  • controversial or outageous storyline;
  • seasonal or topical content;
  • large chorus of ignorant adherents chanting in the comments.

The piece was written by a one Daniel Civantos, who treats with great delicacy and care the thorny subject of religious freedom. Apparently an 8-year-old boy was expelled from school and sent to a psycologist for drawing Jesus on the cross. So let’s investigate Daniel’s journalistic capabilities…

  1. Our investigative hero kicks off describing the outrage of “a father from Taunton (United Kingdom)“, and helpfully links to the original article in the Taunton Daily Gazette: a newspaper published in Taunton Massachusettes (USA). Whoops! Still, only 5122km off the mark.
  2. Said father’s 8-year old son was reportedly sent home from school.
    Not true, as the story has since been debunked by boston.com.
  3. The drawing in question supposedly depicted Jesus on the cross with “X”s for eyes. However, it has since been learned that the child claimed that the drawing represented himself.

The father himself sums up the situation:

“It hurts me that they did this to my kid,” Chester Johnson, the boy’s father, told the Globe. “They can’t mess with our religion; they owe us a small lump sum for this.”

(So this had nothing at all to do with money, then.)

I suppose that if I can do a better job of informing half the readership of our super-sleuth Daniel, I will be satisfied of having done a good job.

More to follow!

[1] http://www.geobytes.com/CityDistanceTool.htm


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