Virality and sourcing online news


After the National Report, a fake news site, published a report about the arrest of Banksy and the reveal of his identity as Paul Horner, the Internet flew into a frenzy.

After the article was read more than five million times and shared approximately three million times, reputable news sites started publishing stories about the National Report’s hoax.

At this point, however, it was a little late for the news sites and blogs who did not take the time to confirm the story and banked on its virality being a sign of its veracity.

The National Report is a satire site from front page to obscure post, but its design unfortunately lends itself more gravitas than it should. It’s not obvious┬áthat the site is loaded with fake news and parody and, for the average reader, this can become incredibly confusing.

However, where the average reader ends and the journalist begins is where the excusability also ends in being hoodwinked by a satire website.

After the release of the report and the subsequent swell in attention, the many low and mid-tier news writers that neglected to fact check the story ended up with egg on their faces. The new way news is being disseminated hinges on independent journalists and their ability to break a story quickly and accurately. Often times independent news outlets from blogs to slightly more established networks, lack the hoops and chain of editors to stringently check each story for accuracy.

The reduced structure means that stories get churned out faster, but often at the risk of accuracy.

As journalism evolves, it will become even more crucial to hold ourselves to stringent reporting standards. It’s up to an individual reporter to maintain a high quality of work but without the help of an entire copy editing department it’s essential that the reporter stay cognizant of the basics of reporting and not get lazy, namely beginning a news report with facts not rumors or false information.