Spotting a fake

The Eye
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‘I hope I get my expenses through…’

On The Eye our Editor Phil Parry has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off

Phil on BBC Wales Today – speak and be quick about it!

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.

After disclosing why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, and how the current coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is playing havoc with media schedules, here he shows that accurate information has never been so important.


The role of journalists is more important now than ever

The role of a properly trained journalist providing accurate and truthful information, is absolutely vital at this time.

Since the start of the lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) we have been treated to ‘news’ about 5G masts being responsible for the virus (with an accompanying video which went, er, viral on social media), that inhaling steam could ‘cure’ the disease, and that New York residents were rapping in unison to a big hit to relieve the boredom.

All of these ‘stories’ were fake, yet believed by people all over the world.

Fake – but believed by thousands

The video of the so-called 5G ‘story’ for example, purportedly showing people in China tearing down a 5G mobile antenna, was shared on social media 10s of thousands of times.

The one about families in Brooklyn, in New York, rapping in unison to one of The Notorious B.I.G.’s biggest hits during lockdown sounds plausible.

A video making the extraordinary claim was also shared 10s of thousands of times on social media, clocking-up more than one million views in a few days.

Wrong concert in the wrong place

But the recording is a perfect match for a video from a Jay-Z concert in 2010, and has been pinpointed to Manhattan not Brooklyn.

It was completely false.

The star actor Woody Harrelson, who has two million Instagram followers, apparently endorsed the 5G ‘news’, by posting the video, and declared: “Meanwhile the Chinese are bringing 5g antennas down”.

This video IS genuine but it’s old and in fact shows protesters in Hong Kong in August 2019 tearing down what was reported to be a ‘smart lamp post’ equipped to collect data.

Some ‘facts’ are just not true, but are believed

It was shared as false rumours about a link between 5G and coronavirus spread on social media.

The nonsense about steam ‘curing’ coronavirus, can actually be harmful.

Practising it may be extremely dangerous and could lead to serious burns.

Complete nonsense

Yet one example of this ‘tip’ was shared on social media more than 40,000 times.

It appears to come from a Facebook user in Durham, who wrote he had heard “first hand that a doctor who had Corona virus recovered in double quick time” after inhaling steam.

A similar message has taken different forms – coming from someone’s ‘sister in London‘, ‘Queens NY’ and ‘a sister from Pakistan‘.

This is Croatia NOT Italy

Fake news and conspiracy theories like these are dangerous.

Posts with images of hospital beds and patients being treated on the streets went viral on social media, along with the claim that hospitals in Italy had run out of space due to the spread of coronavirus.

The images being shared WERE genuine, but they were not from Italy – they were taken in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, after it was hit by an earthquake on March 22.

Baking soda – more nonsense

The most widely shared post about it seems to have originated just as the Government in Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25.

Altogether it has been shared more than 17,000 times.

A Russian scientist has said that a man-made bacterium had somehow merged with the (at the time) new coronavirus and was the reason people were dying.

He recommended baking soda to treat it.

Russian fake ‘cures’ put lives at risk

The interview appeared on a popular Russian YouTube channel and has had more than four million views.

But there’s no evidence to support this – Covid-19 is caused by the coronavirus alone.



It’s also not the case that baking soda can help if you are infected with coronavirus, or prevent infection from it – again it was completely fake.

Why was a manipulative liar like Carl Beech believed?!

‘News’ like this is damaging – as seen in the recent case of paedophile fantasist Carl Beech now in jail for perverting the course of justice after fingering a number of high-profile figures in a totally fabricated ‘story’ of them taking part in a bizarre child abuse ring where children had been murdered.

So it is important to rely on trained, responsible journalists, and not to get ‘information’ from social media.

Book posterUnfortunately this is becoming increasingly difficult to do!


Phil’s memories of his extraordinary 36-year, award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! 

If you need something to keep the children entertained during these uncertain times (in Welsh) try Ffwlbart Ffred about the amusing stories of Ffred and his pet.