False news for publicity harms media credibility

Updated: 2014-11-04 07:57

(China Daily)

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Using news reporting as profitable marketing means for personal gain will only harm the media's credibility in the end, says an article in People's Daily. Excerpts:

Recently a dating website owner initiated a pseudo news report online that an 18-year-old girl would like to exchange her body for traveling expenses. As long as the man was willing to accompany her on her global travel and pay the bills, she would "satisfy his needs during the trip". Many online forums, social media users and news website portals circulated this sensational story.

A news website in Beijing posted another story one day later about two users of the aforementioned dating website who were discovered having sex in the cabin of an excavator, which proved to be another pseudo story fabricated by the website owner.

Such vulgar marketing is cheating the public for personal gain. The Internet administration authorities must take actions to investigate and punish wrongdoers. If they break laws, they should be held accountable for what they did.

The news portal websites should also take the blame as co-conspirators. Click rate is important for them, but if they have to rely on spreading fabricated sensationalism to increase their click rate and visitor numbers, they are ruining their own credibility, the most valuable asset for any media company.

It is not that difficult to check the authenticity of such low-level false news. The five basic elements of a new story when, where, what, why and who are the most important criteria for judging the reliability of a report. The fabricated news invariably lacks any reliable sources and interviewees.

Both the news websites and the public should consciously resist such distasteful news marketing tactics.