On 20th February, Economic Times ran a story that Nirav Modi, prime accused in the multi-crorePunjab National Bank fraud, had first approached State Bank of India, but couldn’t get a loan as they were having a lunch break.
This story, which was published with the byline of the author, Shashank Tiwari, says how Modi had approached SBI in footsteps of ‘his mentor Vijay Mallya’. But he couldn’t get the loan as the employee was going for lunch. There has been a running joke that SBI employees take extended lunch breaks and hence whenever you visit an SBI branch for any work, getting a ‘lunch break’ as an excuse for not doing work immediately is accepted. Of course, it is a joke and we are no way implying incompetence or laziness of SBI employees. However, the news above is not really news, but a satire, form another website of Times Network, a satire page called ‘mocktale’.
The satire piece was mistakenly taken as real news and re-published by Economic Times without fact-checking. After alert Twitter users pointed out, Economic Times deleted the tweet, but not before screenshots were taken.
— ??? (@dimaagkoshot) February 20, 2018
This is not the first time satire has been mistaken for real news. Earlier, we had written on mainstream media and the lost art of satire. It talked about how satire by columnist and scientist Anand Ranganathan has been picked up by mainstream media as real news more than once.
Perhaps the blame to media houses mistaking satire for real news should go to Rahul Roushan who founded Faking News, one of India’s first satire websites. One of the fake news titled “Unable to attract even a single girl, frustrated man sues Axe” was taken as seriously by mainstream media houses.
Now, if only mainstream media houses have tried to check facts before sensationalising, or even had a sense of humour, we wouldn’t have to spell out sarcasm to them.