Press Ombudsman Prof John Horgan warned in a speech this week against ‘journalists plagiarising from the internet and using it as a substitute to leaving the office and finding out about what is happening in the world.’

Here’s why.

Sixteen year old Masal Bugduv was heralded recently by the Times as a promising young Moldavian soccer player linked to Arsenal.

Trouble is, Masal Bugduv doesn’t exist. He was created by the artful use of a wikipedia entry, a fake website, and a few bogus AP news reports pasted as comments on football blogs.

Thanks to a trickle-up effect, these led others to post and comment on Masal, until his fame spread so far that an deadline pressured journalist added him to a list of rising stars.

Eventually, the scam was unearthed when someone noticed Masal Bugduv sounded suspiciously like m’asal beag dubh.

The Irish connection doesn’t end there. One of the papers cited in a bogus press report, Diario Mo Thon, translates as My Arse’s Diary.

Masal Bugduv was apparently created as a ‘social experiment’ by a Galway prankster.

But the success of the prank should give publishers pause for thought. Cut back on staff and resources, and quality suffers.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.


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