Obit Editors Fall for Fake Wikipedia Quote

Papers printed Maurice Jarre gem, but he didn't say it; Irish student did
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2009 3:25 PM CDT
French composer Maurice Jarre.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – An Irish college student managed to prank the world media in an attempt to illustrate lax fact-checking in today’s 24-hour news cycle, the AP reports. When French composer Maurice Jarre died March 28, Shane Fitzgerald fabricated a delicious quote and put it on the Jarre Wikipedia page. The citizen editors on the site repeatedly caught the unattributed utterance; not so dozens of news outlets.

Fitzgerald came clean about his fabrication after realizing newspapers would never figure it out. “If I hadn’t come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up,” he said. “Once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact.” Of all papers that ran the quote, only the UK’s Guardian has acknowledged its mistake.