Utah newspaper the Deseret News has unpublished a story after it was revealed to be a hoax, according to SBC Baptist Press.
The phony story claimed that Southern Baptist Convention supported gay marriage and “‘repented’ of past homophobia.” The Deseret News has also published an apology and retraction. The July 8 story, titled “Southern Baptists accept gay marriage” was live for “more than 15 hours” on the website and in the July 9 print edition of the newspaper.
According to Mondo Times, Deseret News is a daily Salt Lake City newspaper with a circulation of more than 70,000. It is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the Deseret News’ follow-up story explaining the hoax, the newspaper explained that the fake story was reported because the newspaper’s fact checking policy wasn’t followed.
“It is Deseret News policy to call on all press releases and verify the information received. This did not happen in this circumstance. The Deseret News regrets the error, and offers apologies to our readers for having failed to do our duty responsibly. Special apologies are directed to the Southern Baptist community.”
The hoax story was based on a fake June 28 press release purporting to originate from the Southern Baptist Convention. The Center for Responsible Christian Living admitted June 28 it was behind the hoax.
According to SBC Baptist Press, the Center for Responsible Christian Living explained the hoax was to “highlight the Southern Baptists’ anti-gay stance as both irresponsible and unchristian.”
iMediaEthics wrote to the Deseret News’ Chris Lee for further comment. He responded “We did make a big mistake and have apologized and corrected it as best we can. Thanks for holding us (and all journalists) accountable for our work.”