Phony Wikipedia Entry Used By Worldwide Press

Hugh Pickens writes “A quote attributed to French composer Maurice Jarre was posted on wikipedia shortly after his death in March and later appeared in obituaries in mainstream media. ‘One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear,’ Jarre was quoted as saying. However, these words were not uttered by the Oscar-winning composer but written by Shane Fitzgerald, a final-year undergraduate student, who said he wanted to show how journalists use the internet as a primary source for their stories. Fitzgerald posted the quote on Wikipedia late at night after news of Jarre’s death broke. ‘I saw it on breaking news and thought if I was going to do something I should do it quickly. I knew journalists wouldn’t be looking at it until the morning,’ The quote had no referenced sources and was therefore taken down by moderators of Wikipedia within minutes. However, Fitzgerald put it back up a few more times until it was finally left up on the site for more than 24 hours. While he was wary about the ethical implications of using someone’s death as a social experiment, he had carefully generated the quote so as not to distort or taint Jarre’s life, he said. ‘I didn’t expect it to go that far. I expected it to be in blogs and sites, but on mainstream quality papers? I was very surprised.'”

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