Below, see what stories iMediaEthics readers read the most in 2014, based on unique page views.
10. Hoax alert! Jesse Pinkman & 36 Others not Killed from Marijuana, And Lost‘s Jack Shepard isn’t the Doctor [link]
Satire site the Daily Currant’s story about 37 people in Colorado dying from marijuana should have raised eyebrows. Especially because the story claimed one of the doctors involved was Dr. Jack Shepard, a character in ABC’s Lost, and one of the dead was listed as being Jesse Pinkman, the character in AMC’s Breaking Bad.
9. $19 Million Home Renovations for Michael Schumacher? [link]
In April, news outlets spread the story that the wife of Formula 1 racer Michael Schumacher, who has been in a coma since December due to a skiing accident, is spending $20 million to create a “medical suite” in their house.
Schumacher’s manager called the story “absolutely groundless,” but that didn’t keep more than half a dozen outlets from running with it.
8. Lauren Silverman didn’t ditch son for Simon Cowell [link]
The now-shuttered UK Press Complaints Commission secured an apology from the Mail on Sunday for Simon Cowell and his partner Lauren Silverman.
The Mail falsely claimed Silverman left her young son so she could vacation for Christmas with Cowell in Barbados. The story was false, and the Mail apologized and corrected its story.
7. Fake photo of Coke bottles fools BuzzFeed [link]
BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Digital Spy, Eater and the UK Metro were tricked by a fake photograph playing off of Lou Bega’s 1999 song “Mambo Number 5.”
The photo showed Coke labels with “Share a Coke with [a name]” lined up to show the names Monica, Erica, Rita, Tina, Sandra, Mary and Jessica — the names from “Mambo Number 5.” But Coca Cola didn’t make bottle labels with all of those names. The photo was fake.
6. Video Hoax: F-Bombing By Fox News Reporter Not Real [link]
No, a Fox reporter didn’t say on live TV that he wanted to “f***” a mising woman.
The viral video from January showed a real 2013 news segment of a female reporter apologizing with the staged footage of a male who doesn’t work at the station making the sensational comments.
5. Hoax photo of Syrian boy sleeping between graves [link]
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Many news outlets published a “heartbreaking” photo of a Syrian boy sleeping between his parents’ graves.
But the photo was a staged art project. The boy is the nephew of the photographer, who set the graves up in Saui Arabia and took several photos of his nephew posing that day, he told iMediaEthics.
4. 2 Examples of Bad Taste in Chelsea Clinton Reporting [link]
In April, Chelsea Clinton announced she and her husband Marc Mezvinsky were expecting a baby to much media attention. But, two stories crossed the line into questionable taste.
Philly.com published a column titled “Mezvinsky: I did have sex with that woman. Chelsea Clinton’s pregnant.”
In its report on the pregnancy news, USA Today questioned if the pregnancy would “affect Hillary Clinton, who is considering a race for president in 2016.”
3. LA Times, BuzzFeed Cite Poll: 10% of America thinks ‘HTML is a STD’? [link]
In March, the Los Angeles Times, Time magazine, BuzzFeed and numerous others reported on a poll that said about 10% of Americans think HTML is an STD.
But when iMediaEthics looked into the reports, it turned out the Los Angeles Times based its report on a press release from a UK marketing firm. The Times never even saw the study before reporting on it. In addition, the marketing firm says on its website it does marketing stunts, “fake protests, and flash mobs” and more.
2. Hoax: North Korea didn’t send astronaut to the Sun [link]
Second most read this year was a February report on news outlets like Canada Free Press that were duped by an Irish satire site’s story claiming North Korea landed a 17-year-old astronaut on the sun in four hours.
1. Fake quote alert, Pope Francis did’t say no literal hell [link]
Our most read story this year debunked a fake story claiming Pope Francis said there was no “literal hell,” Adam and Eve were a “fable” and hell is just a “metaphor.” He also didn’t say the Catholic Church will start allowing women to be cardinals, bishops and priests.
The fake quotes came from DIversity Chronicle, which admits in a disclaimer that it is a satire site. From there, news outlets including the Albany, NY. Times-Union, republished the quotes and they spread over social media.