In an effort to be the first to jump on a hot new story, more and more media outlets are failing to do one of the most necessary tasks: fact checking.
This has been recently highlighted with a YouTube video titled "Licking bird poo and wearing it too".
The video shows a lady making a video for overseas relatives. Without her knowing, a bird appears to poo on her ice cream. After she manages to eat it without noticing, the bird goes on to also poo on her head.
A recent follow up video shows that Jono and Ben from 'Jono and Ben at 10' were the ones behind it all. And the 'bird poo'? Just a bit of harmless yogurt.
This is not the first time that the media has been purposefully misled in this way, of course. With the appetite for content, and limited editorial resources to check legitimacy (On the Media has a great Breaking News Consumers Handbook that explains everything), media are good targets for stunts. A local example from last year was Greenpeace being behind a media release that lead to Stuff.co.nz running a story saying that oil giants Gazpom and Shell planned on donating a polar bear to Auckland Zoo that had recently lost its home to arctic oil drilling.
And who could forget when Guy Williams managed to get on to Breakfast as a pro-commercial whaling campaigner.
Internationally, even crazier stories have been run. Last year many US news channels were led to believe that the Ukrainian navy had a bunch of killer dolphins wielding guns and knives that were trained to attack swimmers and sniff out explosives.
So the lesson is: keep the batteries charged in those bullshit detectors.