Thursday, October 30, 2008

From the don't believe everything you read department

It seems that lately there have been several articles published by various media outlets that are either basically untrue or the headline and lead seem designed to seriously mislead the reader.

Here are the entries in our hall of shame:

The Mirror published an article that says a crew member aboard Queen Mary 2 murdered his girlfriend who was also his supervisor while the ship was in dry dock in Hamburg. It even goes on to say an autopsy will be held. The problem here is that the story is almost completely false. The altercation basically came down to a scuffle, according to Cunard. The man was taken into custody by police who took him in for questioning and later released him. The woman is still quite alive.

The Telegraph carried an article yesterday headlined, "Cruise passengers tossed into sea in high winds off northern Spain." That calls up visions of passengers on deck being blown off the deck into the ocean while the ship is at sea. Not exactly. The passengers were boarding the ship while strong winds were moving it, and the gangway which they were using fell into the water. While it's certainly a serious situation, it's not really the one the headline leads you to believe "off northern Spain." It happened right in port on the Spanish mainland.

And then there was the article entitled "Holidaymakers stranded in Liverpool dock after cruise is cancelled," which ran in the Mail, as well as similarly titled articles in other newspapers. That evokes images of passengers being in a strange city on their own with no way to leave or get home. Not exactly. It seems their short cruise, which embarked at Liverpool, was canceled due to bad weather just off shore. Instead of sailing the cruise line operated everything aboard the ship just as if they were at sea. Since it was a weather-related reason for the cancellation, the line was unwilling to provide a cash refund but did offer credits toward a future cruise. They even provided local sightseeing. Granted, there is a story in the customer service aspect, the passengers were hardly "stranded" as the title says.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.