The Daily Mirror was hoaxed by a fake story about a man lapsing into a coma after eating 413 biscuits, Arkansas Matters reported. Not only did the Mirror publish a story about the satire coma tale, but the the newspaper also stole the story by failing to credit any news outlet for the quotes, reporting or photos.
The Mirror’s story, “Biscuit binge puts food writer Kevin Shalin into a coma,” has since been unpublished but was published June 24. The Daily Mirror’s article was deleted from its website, but iMediaEthics found a Google Cache of the article, which didn’t provide any attribution or sourcing. The Mirror suggested that it did all the “reporting” to get the story, writing that “doctors confirm” the story, and using quotes from the RockCitytimes story.
But the Mirror’s story was based on Arkansas satire site RockCitytimes‘. RockCitytimes‘ website is clearly a publisher of questionable journalism, with a note underneath its logo reading “Arkansas 2nd most unreliable news source.”
Its June 22 story claimed that food writer Kevin Shalin ate the 413 biscuits at national seafood chain restaurant Red Lobster, and he accompanied each biscuit with “approximately 1/8th of a stick of butter.”
“Doctors are speculating that it is the equivalent of 51.5 sticks of butter that Shalin ate that is causing the coma,” RockCitytimes wrote. Further, the article quoted other restaurant goers commenting that Shalin’s “beard was covered in crumbs,” and that Shalin “thought [the biscuits] were the most wonderful things he ever placed in his mouth.”
The article went on to claim that doctors “drained approximately 2 gallons of butter” from Shalin, who planned on going to a “Golden Corral’s chocolate wonderfall later next week.”
Arkansas Matters noted that Shalin tweeted about the story, calling it “fake” and saying he’s “fine.”
To my Houston friends who just heard the story on the radio…it is NOT real. It is fake. I am fine. I did not eat 400+ biscuits. #satire
— Kevin Shalin (@TheMightyRib) June 24, 2013
RockCitytimes’ Greg Henderson told iMediaEthics that he’s tried to reach out to the Mirror but he’s had “no response.”
“They lack any journalistic standards whatsoever,” Henderson wrote. “They clearly do not even go as far as basic research on any of the items that they put up, or they would have found that my site is satire and any decent media outlet would have not ran it as true. As a result of their lack of fact checking and lack of citing their source however it caused a ripple effect of other media outlets running the story as true with no clear way to check for authenticity.”
Henderson added that he typically conducts “basic research” and links to any sources for his satire posts. Further, he argued that this incident “should be a bit of embarassment” for the Mirror but that he doesn’t “think they give much thought to overall media ethics and it is just part of their typical means of operating.”
RockCitytimes also responded to the Mirror‘s lifting the story with a story making fun of the Mirror’s “poor journalism standards.” Its follow-up satire story read: “The British tabloid The Daily Mirror announced this weekend that they will begin outsourcing the bulk of their content writing to satire news sites based out of Arkansas.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Mirror asking how it learned it was hoaxed, what it will do in response to the failed attribution and lifted quotes, and if it will or has corrected or apologized for the story. We will update with any response.