No, Those Nigerians Won't Really Be Sending You Money
Memo to all media personnel: if a story sounds too juicy to be true, it probably isn't. Especially if your source is the internet ...
Last weekend, someone with an obvious ax to grind posted a "screen capture" allegedly taken from a Channel 4 broadcast. The posting claimed that the WTMJ story had used a graphic that misspelled the word "SWAT" in a particularly embarrassing fashion. Oops.
The internet posting was widely disseminated - including being passed on by the media critic for the local newspaper.
I admit this would be a pretty bad mistake - if it had happened. The fact is however that it didn't.
Officials at WTMJ 4 were able to quickly identify which show the supposed typographical error appeared on. A review of the tape of that show - together with a conversation with the producer of that broadcast - easily confirmed that the supposed error was actually a hoax. In other words, nothing to see here.
What's a bit frustrating is that had any member of the media chosen to call the News Director at Channel 4, they would have learned that this was nothing more than an internet hoax. Unfortunately no one made a call before passing the story on.
To his credit, the columnist who passed on the hoax is today publicly eating an extremely large dose of crow, feathers and all. I respect this. After all, it's tough to admit you were wrong.
Heck, I still hear about my prediction that Romney would win Ohio - and I was looking into the future (not commenting on something that had happened).
I guess the lesson from all of this is that you shouldn't believe everything you read - on the internet or in the newspaper.
And no, those Nigerians won't really be sending you a ton of money if you give them your bank account number.