BBC, TIME Hoaxed by Dog Stoning Story, Will AFP Correct?

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News outlets are retracting and correcting their reports that a dog was sentenced to stoning. (Credit: BBC, screenshot)

Add a fake dog stoning story to the (long) list of June’s hoax stories that includes a Gay Girl in Damascus, the mass grave story, a French TV news station’s fake interview with a Syrian ambassador, and a Toronto news station’s report that the prime minister choked on a hash brown potato.

In the latest hoax, the BBC, Time magazine, the Telegraph and other news outlets published stories about a dog in Israel being condemned to stoning in Israel. As the BBC explained, the hoax story:

“It was reported that the dog reminded a judge of a curse passed on a now deceased secular lawyer about 20 years ago, when judges bid his spirit to enter the body of a dog. The animal was said to have escaped before the sentence was carried out.”

Christian Science Monitor explained how the hoax story spread.  According to Christian Science Monitor, the story started when Behadrei Hadarim, described as “a small Hebrew-language news outlet for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community,” reported an anonymously sourced account of the dog stoning incident.  That anonymous source “was present,” according to CSM.

YNet picked up the story and included that the court denied the account and that “there was no official ruling.”  Then, BBC, Agence France Presse, Time and others picked up the story, but none included that the story had been denied, Christian Science Monitor reported.

Christian Science Monitor likened this fake story to the reporting on the hoax mass grave story in Texas.

Honest Reporting translated Ma’ariv’s apology for its June 3 story, “Mea Shearim: Rabbinnical court orders the stoning of a dog.”

According to the apology, “The title of the story didn’t fully present the entire story, and we apologize for the anguish caused to the court and its members.”

Before the story was revealed as a hoax, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals weighed in, labeling the stoning sentence “absurd” and against Jewish principles, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Corrections, Unpublishing

The BBC has unpublished its story.  According to the BBC’s editors blog, the story was based on articles by Ynet and Agence France Presse, but the BBC didn’t realize that the story had been retracted by Israeli-newspaper Maariv.

“We failed to make the right checks. We should never have written the article and apologise for any offence caused,” the BBC explained.

The BBC noted it is keeping its story reporting the denials of the story up here.

The AFP reported June 17 about the dog stoning, but StinkyJournalism hasn’t seen any correction or update.  We are writing to the AFP for a correction and will update with any response.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that Yahoo News reported the story but has since removed it.

The Digital Journal reported on the story but posted an update letting readers know the story “was a media prank.”

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BBC, TIME Hoaxed by Dog Stoning Story, Will AFP Correct?

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