As it seems like so many high-profile figures are keen to launch an all-out war on fake news at the moment for the good of everyone on Facebook, at Southend News Network we thought that it would be a great idea to point all of the well-known people and organisations that we have managed to fool in the past.
Our top ‘win’ has to be when we managed to fool the nation’s much-loved news outlet, The S*n.
After I noticed one day that eight-month-old Chief Reporter junior looked particularly cute in a cow onesie, I came up with a ridiculous story about her being kicked out of a vegan’s birthday party for causing offence.
I was very careful to put plenty of clues in there that the whole thing was bollocks. First of all, the little cowprint-clad baby was called ‘Tanya Hyde,’ and the vegan extremist mother was known as Esmeralda Soy-Abbinton (soya bean joke, but you all spotted that didn’t you).
Anyway, imagine the guffaws at Southend News Network HQ when an email arrived from the ol’ Currant Bun asking if we were prepared to ‘syndicate’ the photo – sounds painful, and to be fair it was about to get VERY painful for these journalists.
We definitely thought that a senior journalist, sub-editor or anyone else with two brain cells to rub together within Murdoch’s empire would pick up on the massive red herrings that we left in there before publishing it.
How about, no …
The real ‘pisser’ was that the Facebook update screamed that it was part of their ‘Real Life’ category. Christ …
How about everyone’s favourite girl, Katie Hopkins? KHop was in the middle of a live LBC radio broadcast in August 2016 when she decided to report that the M25 motorway was going to be closed for ONE WHOLE WEEK.
The only problem was that she was getting her information line-by-line from our story about the M25 being closed for, er, ONE WHOLE WEEK so that people would be able to have a fitness and endurance race around it.
Anyone who has been reading our stuff for a while will know that we also love to try and ‘poke the balls’ of the far-right from time to time. Hot Cross Buns having their crosses removed to appease ‘mathematical fundamentalists,‘ bikinis being banned from Southend seafront, and the Essex villages of Good Easter and High Easter having the word ‘Easter’ removed from their names all managed to get a serious amount of shares on Facebook pages affiliated with Britain First, the English Defence League and a number of other groups who are passionate about ‘are cuntry.’
The Hot Cross Buns story in particular appeared on Tommy Robinson’s Twitter feed. Oops. A number of mainstream media outlets covered these incidents in detail – have a quick Google and look!
The main thing about all of these cases of far-right baiting was that the headline was only partially stupid, with the real clincher coming in the story itself – perhaps partially excusable then.
However, when we published a headline about a job-stealing immigrant getting arrested for hiding 63 jobs in his basement, imagine our surprise when an official English Defence League page decided to get in on the action – despite the joke actually being in the headline.
My biggest regret as Chief Reporter of Southend News Network was when I didn’t see how far I could take this next incident.
When I wrote a story about a girl having her baby taken away because she called her ‘Heroin’ instead of ‘Hermione’ by accident, I promptly received an email from a news agency asking if they could cover the same story. This wasn’t just any old mush from any old news agency – it was the Acting Bureau Chief of the Associated Press in London! I should have seen how far I could have taken it, and if you don’t believe that this happened then check out the emails …
Jumping from the world of news to the world of entertainment, we published a story about a burlesque act being banned from Southend Carnival for being ‘too adult in nature.‘ ‘Ridiculous and obviously made-up!’ I hear you all cry.
Unfortunately, a researcher on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent didn’t pick up on the subtle clues, and he was VERY keen to get my fictitious burlesque troop to go and take part in the Southend audition.
I even called him up and put on a ridiculous girl’s voice to try and seal the deal – this included pointing out that I had to give up pole dancing because of a severe case of vertigo (that was the ‘sob story’ element).
I gave up after that as I had no intention of wandering around Southend Town Centre in drag, but you can find out more about the whole sorry incident here.
The Pokémon Go craze really got social media buzzing, and we added fuel to the fire by saying that someone in Southend had driven into the sea while they were trying to play the game on their mobile phone.
When it was mentioned by someone on BBC Radio 5 Live, there was a reason why her co-presenter had his head in his hands, so have a listen here.
There have been countless other examples of people sharing and mentioning Southend News Network stories without realising that they are utter bull, but these have to stand out above all others.
If this whole ‘fake news crackdown’ bullshit ends up in our timely demise, at least we can say that it has all been a laff.