Here at Angry People In Local Newspapers, we have never hidden the fact that we ‘might’ know the true identity of the so-called Chief Reporter – the guy (or perhaps lady) who runs the not-so-real news website Southend News Network.
This is what happens in the media – people know people.
Anyway, a few weeks ago you may have seen that they ran a story over on SNN about a baby being kicked out of a vegan’s birthday party for wearing a cow onesie.
The clues and red herrings were plentiful, as is the norm on SNN. The baby was named ‘Tanya Hyde,’ the militant vegan mother was called Mrs Soy-Abbinton (soya bean, FFS), and the mentioned soft play centre where the incident took place didn’t actually exist.
More to the point, the whole tone of the story meant that anyone with an IQ higher than a packet of Quavers would be able to spot that it was utter garbage.
Anyone, except one unfortunate journalist from The Sun.
Just 24 hours after the story was published on SNN, a member of staff from one of the UK’s largest news outlets was frantically trying to get permission to use the photo of the baby, who was in fact the Chief Reporter’s eight-month-old daughter.
She now has her own Facebook page, by the way.
The rest was history. It went live on their website, Facebook and Twitter accounts, quoting the made-up article line by line, and it took them more than two hours to realise that they had been had.
The following is taken from SNN’s write up of the whole sorry incident, and there are lessons there for any budding journalist. Actually, there’s probably just one.
Google the source of any story before rubbing your hands together with glee. Popping ‘Southend News Network’ into any search engine will show within nanoseconds that it is all made up!
At Southend News Network, we are delighted to say that we have just managed to get everyone’s favourite news outlet The S*n to publish one of our made-up news stories as REAL NEWS.
This has to be our best-ever win.
24 hours ago, we published a ‘news story’ about a baby getting kicked out of a vegan party for wearing a cow onesie – including the fact that the baby was called ‘Tanya Hyde’ and the vegan mum was called Esmeralda Soy-Abbinton.
A vegan whose name was ‘soya bean’ – ground breaking stuff.
Anyway, we had the usual reaction of people who ‘got it’ and people who didn’t, but on Saturday morning we received an email from a photo guy at The S*n wanting to sort out an image.
Thankfully, our weekend girl Stephanie (made-up, naturally) was very helpful – she set up a fake email account and everything just in case.
At this stage we sat and waited with bated breath – surely someone, somewhere was going to twig?
After all, three seconds of Googling ‘Southend News Network’ would have given them all the information required to realise that the whole thing was a big pile of bollocks.
Alas, it was not to be …
Now, seeing that the b*stards took it down (it only took them two hours to realise it was a wind up), you’ll all have to make do with these expertly captured screenshots (experts can contact us for the saved HTML and Internet Wayback has a cached text-only version here if anyone wants evidence).
There is also a cached version of the Facebook update here from their Facebook page. It’s a shame that the comments don’t work in this archive – some of them we’re utter belters.
If you don’t see the whole article, open this article in your normal browser instead of Facebook Instant or whatever.
To make matters worse, they currently have another article about fake news with the following paragraph:
So there you have it. The Chief Reporter shoves his 8-month-old daughter in a cow onesie, takes a photo, makes up some cock and bull story and The S*n gobbles it all up in their latest quest to demonise vegans.
If any of you are worried about poor Tanya Hyde AKA Chief Reporter Jr, she’s fine.