The Lost Sense of Journalism

From May 29, 1997 (http://web.archive.org/web/19970618002257/www.commadot.com/beta/html/archive.htm)

The lost-world was “hacked” yesterday. (May 28, 1997)

Someone replaced the opening image on the lost-world website yesterday. The new image transformed the scary dinosaur skeleton into a rubber duck. The caption: The duck-world. Beneath the caption was a very small tagline stating, hackers. Every detail of this replacement was perfect. The graphics were professionally designed. The imagemap was well designed and the rest of the site was untouched and worked perfectly.

The fact is, this was a publicity stunt and it’s pathetic.

The makers of lost-world.com thought it would be a great trick to put up a spoof on their own site and blame the big bad hackers. So they made a cutesy parody called the duck-world, and then proceeded to make the actual site. Real examples of hacking on the net include the CIA site turned into the Central Stupidity Agency, and the Justice Department site changed to display pornographic images. These are prime examples of hacking. A duck, perfectly designed, is not a hack; it’s a publicity stunt.

This is proven by the image and file details. Go to any image on the Web and right-click on it and save it to your hard drive. Then go to your file manager and look at the details of the image. There should be a last modified date on it. The date on the duck image was actually two days before the date on the actual dinosaur image that was supposed to be on the site. Pretty smart of the hackers to know what the site looked like before it was even created, eh?

The creators of the site then contacted CNN after the site was launched and said that their site was hacked. Oh NO! They gave CNN all the details. See Story. And CNN like a good reporter (or a paid one) posted the story at: 2:57 a.m. May 28, 1997.

This is very interesting considering that the file dates on the hacked sites were dated AFTER the story was posted. CNN wrote the story and had the hacked imagery BEFORE the site was changed.

Plain and simple, the creators of the lost-world.com tried to trick people into visiting the site to see the hack. And there was never a hack. It was a complete fabrication. A Lie. Garbage. Whether CNN knew it was a lie is unknown. But at the very least, they did not check the basic facts of the story at all. This is my biggest problem. The lack of common sense in the net media. Every story is eaten up with the barest fact checking. If CNN would have thought about this at all they would have realized that it was a PR stunt.

I just saw that news.com also picked up the story. Media Whores, selling themselves to a blue-chip site just for the publicty.

Does this bother you too?

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