Hold ye front page - someone is wrong about the internet

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 5 September 2012

You might have seen an image doing the rounds on the web which appears to be The Sun reporting on the invention of the World Wide Web, and comparing it to the Sinclair C5. Much hilarity ensues.

The Sun’s “front page” about the “World Wide What?”

The Sun’s “front page” about the “World Wide What?”

Of course, the image is a fake, taken from the paper’s educational site Hold Ye Front Page, which features mocked-up images of how The Sun might have reported famous events in history. It is a great little site - full of the humour and cheek of the paper - and, I think, one of the best digital content products to come out of the British newspaper industry.

Without a doubt the most fun job in media today is manning @HoldYeFrontPage’s Twitter account, which is delighting in pointing out to people that they are happily criticising the paper for having a low standing of reporting without checking whether the image is what the tweet says it is - for example:

“Brilliant. FAIL from "@copenhagenize: Brilliant. FAIL from @TheSunNewspaper RT The Sun reporting on 'The Internet' in the 90's.” - @HoldYeFrontPage

I think it is a really neat social media response to seeing the activity around the image being spread.

From a user point of view, As Antonia Mochan said to me on Twitter, it is “a good example of why we need our critical faculties about us at all times.” The basic rule of thumb “if something looks too good to be true, it probably is” is just as true online as it is offline.

It also gives me an excuse to link to Is Twitter Wrong? - a brilliantly simple idea for a Tumblr, brilliantly and simply executed. Here is their take-down of people tweeting the spoof Sun story.

That site should be a salutary lesson to digital news organisations.

It is timely, topical, relies on building trust by being accurate, and is based on doing some research and fact-checking - skills that newspapers have at their disposal. It doesn’t need a flashy tech build, or lots of templates, or a heavily designed front page. It just provides a service to the audience. Cheap to produce, but with potential for huge social media reach, it is the kind of editorial thing a digital news service could have started at any time over the last four years, but hasn’t.

1 Comment

The article on the image doing the rounds is written by "Dot Comme". Surely that's the giveaway its not real!

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