“Surgically alters thumbs to better use iPhone” roared the headline at the North Denver News. According to the story, 28-year-old Thomas Martel had his large thumbs surgically altered so that he more easily use the on-screen keyboard of his iPhone.
“Sure, the procedure was expensive, but when I think of all the time I save by being able to use modern handhelds so much faster, I really think the surgery will pay for itself in ten to fifteen years,” Martel was quoted as saying.
The expert who supposable did the operation told the North Denver News: “”We’re turning plastic surgery from something that people use in service of vanity, to a real tool for improving workplace efficiency.”
Tech sites raced to report this news, the only problem was that the whole story was a concoction. According to the editor at the North Denver News, Guerin Lee Green, the story was just a pure humor and social commentary. Green made this observation:
“… many commentators have derided Mr Martel for stupidity first and foremost, which may indicate something about their credulity. In an era when fake news, like Paris Hilton, has crowded out real news and public debate, the lesson is that skeptical consumption of information, whether from the North Denver News, the New York Times, or the National Review, is a must.”
What Green says is true, but it’s also true that publications, when they’re having some “fun”, need to make it very clear that they are doing so.
Anyone who regularly follows the news will know that truth is often far stranger than fiction, and in the madness of news reporting in the world of Web 2.0, often the emphasis is on getting the story out the door in order to remain competitive.
Yes, tech sites may have been sucked in, but I would suggest that just as importantly, serious news publications shouldn’t just be making up news.