Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Trick or Truth!

Okay, this may seem like a little bit of a trivial thing, or it may just make me seem like an idiot, but I figure that any news article that leaves me searching the internet like this one deserves some attention.

Before reading the rest of my post, take 45 seconds to read this article related to the U.S. Outsourcing.

Finished reading it? No? Oh, well, here’s the link again.

Okay, now you've actually read it? Good. So maybe you're not like me, but at the end of the article I was left wondering "Is this for real, or is this just some spoof article that's meant to make fun?" I thought it was just a spoof, but there was no obvious disclaimer, such as "Andy is a Humorist writing spoof news Articles for Newsweek" at the very bottom of the page. I mean, sure, it's classified as "Humor" on MSNBC and "Satire" by Newsweek, but sometimes there's a lot of truth to what's meant to be humor.

So I thought "Maybe on the guy's webpage, The Borowitz Report, there might be a biography or something." Nope, nothing.

After some searching, I found this page on Amazon, which describes his book. Using your browser, search for "fake journalist" (which appears just above "Product Details"). That's the type of conclusive disclaimer that I was looking for.

So my ethics issue here is this - some of the more serious sounding and legit looking humor pages should have a better disclaimer. I could easily see some gullible fool being completely taken by that article, even though it was not meant to be taken as such. Do we really want people like that running around talking about the "horrible article about U.S. outsourcing" that they read from a very reliable source, such as MSNBC? These things need to be better marked. After all, we do live in a world in which firewood is marked as "Warning: Flammable!"

The satire article above is making fun of President Bush outsourcing Port Secutiy, which is a real story.... or at least, I've been fooled! This article mentions Dubai, which has some interesting things going on in it. Check out a Google Image Seach, or look at the World's Fanciest Hotel (Burj al-Ara), read about Dubai on Wikipedia, look at The Palm Islands or The World Islands websites.


Moulton said...

To my mind, the problem isn't that a few people will take political humor seriously, but that most people take politicians seriously.

Nancy Williams said...

"The satire article above is making fun of President Bush outsourcing Port Secutiy, which is a real story..."

Yes. That's what cartoonists and satirists do -- poke fun at political happenings.

As for notifying the reader that this is satire, there's a label right at the top, preceding the headline. What I'm hearing in your post is that's not enough to clue the reader that this isn't a bonafide news story. Did I get that right?

Dave Kennedy said...

Yes, that was my point. I don't think that was quite enough for a lot of readers out there. Like I said in my post, maybe I'm just making myself look like an idiot here, but "Satire/The Borowitz Report" was not enough for me to realize that it was 100% fictitious. After reading the article I was convinced it was, but the heading I don't think is enough for some people out there.

Buffy said...

Perhaps, our education system needs to spend a little more time with students in the recognition and analysis of satire.