Sunday, November 15, 2009

Big Boob Blooper - A Story on FAIL Journalism

This is about a news article in The Star (published on November 12, 2009) that turned out to be a fake news fabricated by a supermarket tabloid 6 years ago.

To save myself the trouble of telling the whole story again, let me attach the complaint letter I wrote to The Star here:

Dear The Star Editor,

I am writing with regards to the news on  "a study in the US showing that women with bigger breasts were found to be smarter". For your information, this is a fake news which was reported in World Weekly News back in Nov 4, 2003. Yes, from six years ago. The original news is available here. You can verify that this "news" is identical to the one reported in The Star.

Evidence that this news is fake:
  1. World Weekly News is a supermarket tabloid renowned for its outlandish cover stories often based on supernatural and paranormal themes and an approach to news that verged on the satirical.

  2. Note the informal language this article is written with.

  3. Read the previous and subsequent pages. Note the trivial and exaggerated writing.

  4. A search in Google Scholar (Google's academic journal search engine) for published articles by Rossdale in chicago returned no matching result. Google Scholar is a comprehensive academic search engine so the lack of matching result implies the non-existence of the study.

  5. A search for "yvonne rossdale" in Google shows only copies of the original article from World Weekly News. If you browse through some of the results, there are many websites in which people have pointed out that Dr. Yvonne Rossdale does not exist.

  6. A search in Google News for "chicago breasts" shows that only The Star and Hindustan Times (which in turn copied The Star I believe) are reporting on this news. No other major news outlet is picking up on this "study".
I am absolutely appalled by The Star's negligence in verifying the authenticity of the news before the publication. This fake news has now been disseminated widely over the Internet, and your company's negligence is responsible for the misinformation. It is mentioned that this news is compiled from Sin Chew Daily which in turn is quoting from a Singaporean paper, but I have not been able to find the articles in Sin Chew or any Singaporean paper. I would like you to point me to the original article in these papers, so that I can forward this email to them as well.

More importantly, I would like The Star to publish a correction in a conspicuous corner as soon as possible. I fervently hope that in the future your employees remember to verify all news with primary sources (isn't that in Journalism 101 by the way?) before publication lest your reputation deteriorates.


Chang Yang Yew
Let us see how The Star responds to the hoax story they have published.


Lee Young, 李阳 said...

Awesome lol!
Wow when will your complaint letter be published? ha..

day-dreamer said...


Choong Fu said...

Good for you to tell them off. Haha.

By the way, TheStar itself is already known for covering "the real news" in Malaysia. What's more for international one. Can't really rely on them man.

daffodils said...

Kudos and I hope your letter gets printed. I was actually aghast that such an offending and unverified article was classified as most read on the day that it was printed. It is definitely an insult to those who are not well endowed. But I wonder whether they are ever going to print your strongly worded letter. Let's wait and see.

julian said...

Hi - thanks for telling me about this. I have also now emailed the editor about the similarly shoddy article I found on the Star today, and linked to your post.

If anyone is interested, this is my post: