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Tyson’s sex-change story meant for relief

By publishing the spoof about Mike Tyson’s sex change, were we duped? Many of our readers thought so last week. Even the BBC carried an article saying The Standard had been fooled by the NewsBiscuit prank into thinking it was true.

By The Editor

But readers should have noticed that we punctuated our headline with a question mark. We followed what is called “Betteridge’s law of headlines”.

The law says, “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no”. It has also been called “Davis’ law” or just the “journalistic principle”.

Wikipedia explains: “The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bollocks, but still want to run it.”

If the headline asks a question, try answering “no”. Examples: “Is this the true face of Britain’s young? (Sensible reader: No.)

Have we found the cure for Aids? (No; or you wouldn’t have put the question mark in.)

Does this map provide the key for peace? (Probably not.)”

When we read it on NewsBiscuit, we laughed and thought our readers could also get the relief we got. They did!

There were so many hits on our website, more than most stories in recent times.

And who says spoofs should only be carried on April 1?

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24 Responses to Tyson’s sex-change story meant for relief

  1. Rude December 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Bullshit

  2. Jonso December 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    Hey, swallow your pride and own up! Enough of this ego thing. You should just have rewritten the story and highlighted that it might not be true. Alternatively you should have tried to verify facts. I personally did not get any relief. Thanks.

  3. Fadi December 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    You published the story ‘verbatim’!, you even have the cheek to use the expletive ‘bollocks’ in your story. Everyone can see that you were fooled, be humble enough to say that you were fooled.

  4. BB Gun December 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Haha you fools, quoting wiki as well- how low can you get? Hey, I heard the North Korean Leader was voted sexist man in the world for 2012- maybe you could do a story on that!

  5. Musoni December 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    You should just apologise to your readers not attempt a cover up. We are not idiots you know.

    • Gutter Poet December 17, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      You are dead right, an apology puts the lid on this issue..waffling at a angles makes it worse. We are talking credibility here. We are fooled all the time, why should you be different, you are afterall like us, human too. So hey put a lid on it!!! And do be more careful next time!

  6. Nyati December 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    if it was meant for relief why is the original story not on your website anymore.

  7. Breee December 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    The editor comes across as embarrassingly inept and judging by the comments here everyone sees it!

  8. Tafadzwa Talkmore Madzimbamuto December 17, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    Just apologising will not do any harm, you were fooled into publishing the story, these laws of journalism you are writting about are only known by you who studied journalist so it doesn’t help to justify yourself for beeing fooled by being schoolerly. Lord have mercy on us

  9. Martin M. December 17, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Mr Editor,
    I feel your explanation misses the point. The space allocated to the story, the prominence, show that you were duped. Quoting all these journalistic terms to an audience deceived is tantamount to a shop displays one price, only to say we were kidding. You have a page dedicated to lighter news and furthermore, the Standard is a serious, socio-political paper. You are not Onion.com. You job is not to provide comic relief except it be on your entertainment pages or if its real comic relief, eg, Chinotimba’s shenanigans at various Zanu PF meetings. It was a little in bad taste and I must say I was ashamed to admit that the newspaper concerned is one of the serious players in Zimbabwe’s media industry. Silence on the matter would have sufficed. Your insistence at proving everyone journalistically bankrupt has exposed you at how inept the senior editorial team is. Everyone down the chain must accept responsibility, starting with yourself, Iden, Vincent and Rafael. You must answer to Trevor as to why you put a credible paper in serious disrepute by carrying a story which has no basis and makes you the laughing stock of the media industry worldwide. Please learn to keep quiet and to admit where you are wrong. And since when did Wikipedia become a media expert? I have been a journalist for a long time, hold degrees in the field and several years of experience but never have I come across the terms you put across: “Betteridge’s law of headlines”/“Davis’ law”. There is no “journalistic principle” as you seek to argue. Sometimes, silence is golden!

  10. Exiled December 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    This is rubbish at its highest level. Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish. Remember we are not all jorunalists so we rely on you guys for news and wats happening around the world. Now if u lie to us like this and dont own up your lies will you then deserve our trust? Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,Rubbish,.

  11. Nazmo December 18, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    What a lousy excuse Mr Editor you just made yourself look a fool. You think Zimbabweans buy your silly low class reporting

  12. Evelyne December 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    What a croak !!! You should have known better !!!!!!!

  13. Evelyne December 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    What a croak!!! You should have known better, Mr Editor!!! SHAME ON YOU !

  14. Perks December 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Ah I get it. So something like this…

    The Standard Knew Tyson’s Sex Change Story Was A Spoof?

    I see what you mean

  15. Clive December 23, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    loooooooolest

  16. Clive December 23, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    just apologize to your readers Mr editor. i was also made a fool when i told my colleagues what i had red in your news paper and i defended you. i later realised it was a lie when i checked on the net if there were such news. thats when i realised you punks had lied. thanks for making m a fool Mr editor. just apologise we dont want hear your journalistic jargon

    • Marimo January 11, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      Yes, if these guys had apologised, it was going to be much much better, not to try to insult our intelligence with this denial. The Betteridge’s law of headlines is used when a journalist if not sure of the facts. In this case, the facts where clear, NewsBisucit is a satirical new source. They should just apologise that they did not know the nature of the popular satire source!

  17. julian December 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    …….and the problem is u r a weekly, by the time u retract the story or attempt any damage control 7 dys later, harm has already bn done. So b careful nxt time. Shame on u!

  18. martinzivanayi December 30, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Mr Editor let us have trust in you , we want truth and quality news . I thank you

  19. Marimo January 11, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Even myself, with no Journalistic training, know what is “Betteridge’s law of headlines”. Curiously, when the followup article quote Wikipedia, you left this vital part :

    ……..,” and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it “.

    This implies that the journalist is not sure of the actual facts. this means to some extent, the journalist believes there may be truth in the story.

    In the case of this story, the facts where clear, NewsBiscuit is a satirical news source. You only did not know it! And you unashamedly try to look like you knew. Even more pathetic is your attempt to leave out the important part of that Wikipedia quote. You can take your readers for granted. Do not try to insult our intelligence!

  20. ZimDiaspora January 11, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    I only knew that the story was carried by the Standard when I was reading a British new web site. But I think the Editor’s explanation carries some water. They were fooled but they are just coming into the open. Thanks Mr Editor for running this story so long. Next time don’t keep us in the dark about newsworth items but just indicate that you are also in doubt or not sure. I enjoyed reading it the first time when I had to imagine Myke in a dress or something like that. Thanks Editor

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