Don’t let a hoax get by you

By · Thursday, October 18th, 2012

It happened again.

Someone successfully plotted a hoax that got by the media and trended on Twitter.

No — male celebrities are not donating sperm to so women can pay more than $24,000 for “top quality celebrity surrogate fathers.”

Yes — the hosts of Britain’s Independent Television show, “This Morning,” have acknowledged that their guest “CEO” turned out to be an imposter.

Here are two telling lines from coverage of the story, and they represent the kind of “gut instinct” that can help thwart a hoax if our instinct kicks in at the right time.

Upon launching an investigation after the interview, ITV discovered it really was too good to be true and apologized to viewers on Thursday for being “misled by this stunt.”

The hosts of “This Morning,” Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, admitted that the story “was so unbelievable” that they later realized something was “not quite right.”

In our book, “Think Like an Editor,” we share cautions for just these kinds of “too good to be true” stories:

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of anything that is unusual and entertaining. Sharing is our first instinct. That’s why we first have to check in with our gut instinct.

Emilie Davis



I feel like a lot of the fake stories that get out can be easily caught by people if they just take a step back and use their common sense. Gut feelings should definitely be taken seriously.