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Paper Monitor

11:16 UK time, Friday, 21 October 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Today is time for serious rumination on a very silly story.

Yesterday a number of the papers ran a story suggesting a man had received a 7ft-long size 1,450 monster slipper after attempting to order a size 14.5 and size 13 one from China.

The Metro carried it. The Daily Mail carried it. The Daily Record carried it. BBC local radio carried it.

Now, a number of journalists, including Paper Monitor, had suspicions over this story. The real world isn't like Spinal Tap's Stonehenge episode.

Slippers are made on factory lines, using templates. There aren't big levers in modern factories that allow you to supersize a single item on the production line.

The Guardian did a very thorough debunking, which made a nice piece in and of itself, namechecking those who were quickest with their suspicions.

The Daily Telegraph had carried the story but updated it to the "it was a hoax" line, leaving no clue that their original story had been done straight. The Magazine had it as its quote of the day, which is usually drawn from a newspaper story.

Paper Monitor can't look into the minds of the journalists who wrote the various stories on the slipper, but hacks are not usually a credulous bunch. It is hard not to believe that most if not all would have had suspicions.

But even if they had known definitely it was a stunt, is it wrong to publish a story? It's one for a media ethics course.

There are plenty of commenters on the Daily Mail story who don't seem to mind that the story isn't true. To them it's amusing anyway.

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