This just in: North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un is a heartthrob extraordinaire. That’s the word from China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, which reported the news on its website yesterday.
There was only one problem: People’s Daily editors and reporters forgot to track down the source for their story, so they didn't know who was really feeding them this information.
As it turns out, it was none another than The Onion, the humor newspaper whose website today is also reporting a story about the area woman who uploaded her 12 million vacation pictures to Facebook. You can look it up.
It appears the editors and reporters at The People’s Daily violated one of journalism’s golden rules – they lifted the story without drilling down on the facts or the actual source behind the story.
The People’s Daily website, The New York Times reported, included a brief article, a “55-photograph slide show” and cited a portion of The Onion's rationale for selecting the North Korean leader: “… this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true … Kim made (The Onion’s) editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle and, of course, that famous smile.”
The Onion article, of course, is a parody of People magazine’s annual ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ feature. Past Onion winners included (Syrian dictator) Bashar al-Assad, (convicted felon) Bernard L. Madoff and (Unabomber) Theodore J. Kaczynski, according to The Times.
I'll reserve judgment about Kim Jung-un's induction into this distinguished group at a later date.