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Lies, Damn lies, and Newspaper sales

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

It appears that, along with many other people, I was duped into believing a false story. I’ll let the silicon.com Weekly Roundup explain and ridicule:

And finally, still on the subject of questionable journalism, news reached the Round-Up this week that one of the year’s most ridiculous stories was little more than a lie… cheaply concocted to sell papers. (Which is the Round-Up’s slightly self-important way of saying ‘phew, thank God we didn’t write this…)

The saga began with a journalist writing for the Romanian tabloid Libertatea claiming to have found a couple who named their child ‘Yahoo!’ in celebration of the fact they met online.

Even the most copy-hungry newspaper editor, with all manner of serious ear, nose and throat issues should have smelled something a little bit fishy at this point but the journalist concerned, the negatively charged Ion Garnod, had gone to the trouble of backing up his story with a forged birth certificate.

(The Round-Up can’t help thinking at this point that it’s a very telling sign-of-the-times that skilled forgers in Eastern Europe are turning to journalism as a source of income.)

However, as surely as night follows day, fact followed fiction and Garnod was exposed as a liar who made up the story “to make himself look good”.

To do what? To make himself look good!?

Whatever happened to elaborate lies about sexual conquests – perhaps involving twins – or great sporting prowess?

“Alright lads… how’s it going?”
“Good thanks Ion… what’s kept you, you’re very late?”
“Oh, I bumped into this couple who named their baby Yahoo!”
“Wow, you’re the greatest, pull up a chair and let us buy you an absinthe.”

The Round-Up doesn’t know who Garnod hangs out with but really thinks his peer group is way too easily impressed.

What about:

“Yeah sorry about that lads but I bumped into the Cheeky Girls and spent a wild night in a hotel with them…”

Actually, maybe ‘Yahoo!; the baby was the better option after all.

(Apologies at this point to any readers in Romania for having a woeful grasp on who the latest Romanian pin-ups might be… without a doubt there must be better than the Cheeky Girls.)

Simona Ionescu, Garnod’s deputy editor-in-chief, told Reuters “we fired him”, which didn’t exactly tax the shorthand of the Reuters journalist.

Ionescu did go on to say: “If it were real, it would have been a good story indeed.”

No, if it were real it would still have been a story about a couple who named their baby ‘Yahoo!’ let’s not get carried away.

I think I’m right in saying that this is the first time I’ve blogged a completely inaccurate story in twenty-one months of posting, and I’m really quite bothered about having helped spread this myth. I’ll certainly be checking my sources even more closely in future to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

So, apologies for making the mistake, and I’ll trust my source on this a little less from now on (though, in fairness, the VNU Network are normally reliable).

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Technology.

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