Radio Prank Catches Media Napping
If you were looking through news items this weekend, or if you’re a big Justin Bieber fan, you may have noticed reports saying that Justin Bieber was looking to buy a home in the Buckhead section of Atlanta and that a local group was going to protest that fact.
The group, calling itself “The Buckhead Neighborhood Coalition” had warned residents that having Bieber in their neighborhood had the potential to ruin what the other residents had built. They had a Facebook page and a Twitter feed and had planned a 6 AM protest; this news was carried by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, CNN, The New York Daily News, The Daily Mail, and TMZ. It was all a prank, and not one outlet tried to vet the story before airing it.
A radio show in Atlanta, The Regular Guys (who, listeners with reeeeeaaallly good memories will recall, did fill in work on this very radio station in the ‘90s), staged the whole thing. I don’t know the Regular Guys, we passed in the hallways here 15 years ago or so, but I wanted to bring their prank to a bigger audience as a way to warn people not to believe everything that passes as news, even when it comes from legitimate, respected sources. An alternative paper in Atlanta smelled a rat because they actually tried talking to people who live in the neighborhood in question. It pays to be skeptical.