Commentary: Czech media publish manipulative news item about slaughtered sheep and an "evil Turk"
Today we are reporting yet another case study on the topic of "journalists in Czech media who could easily be replaced by monkeys. Even untrained ones."
News server Echo24.cz has published a critical news item about a nice Austrian man who let an evil Turk graze the Austrian man's herd of sheep, 79 of whom the evil Turk then allegedly ritually slaughtered to celebrate the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice. The article does not mention anybody's names or any other concrete information, which is usually a reliable indicator of a hoax.
Echo24.cz lists a news server called The Local as the source of its information. A first glance at the source article reveals that the journalists at Echo24 cannot read English, because the original article reports that the nice Austrian man actually just "loaned" his pasture to the evil Turk, not his herd.
So the evil Turk, in the source version of the story, wasn't so evil after all, because he slaughtered his own sheep, not somebody else's entrusted to his care. The original article, however, also lacks concrete information that would make it easy to verify.
What it does include, however, is a mention of the very first source for this story, which is a news agency called Central European News (CEN). Yes, this is exactly the new agency that is known to anybody who spends longer than five minutes in the media field for producing bizarre hoaxes used by online media outlets (especially less serious ones) to fill their columns with curiosities and inevitably attract "likes" and shares.
More about the practices of CEN can be found in the Bachelor's thesis by Bc. Veronika Čáslavská, entitled "Spread of journalistic hoaxes in Czech media: the case of Central European News agency" (Šíření tzv. novinářských kachen v českých médiích na příkladu agentury Central European News) or in the by now legendary article on BuzzFeed called "The King of Bullsh*t News". Čáslavská describes CEN has having become infamous for pieces with headlines like "Poles expel hermaphroditic Winnie the Pooh from playground", or "Justin Bieber saves Russian man from bear attack", or "Chinese man has a body full of worms from eating sushi".
Now the Echo24 website has chosen a report that is suspicious at first glance from an infamous, notoriously unreliable source, failed to correctly understand it, and rewritten it in a form that is nothing but total disinformation. (P.S: According to Muslim tradition, Abraham sacrificed Ishmael - not Isaac, as Echo24 has reported.)
UPDATE: On 18 September, Echo24 corrected its version of the article described above.
First published in Czech on news server Manipulátoři.cz.
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