Internet hoax regarding cannibal rats sparks light on unreflected journalism
The newest threat to Britain consisting of rats on board of an abandoned ghost ship heading to its coast, was the latest viral hoax. The story began with an article in The Independent and has since been picked up without any further investigation by many other news outlets, such as Huffington Post's "Blame Canada? The Independent’s Jan. 23 story claimed the Russian ship was filled with “cannibal rats” that were poised to stage an invasion by sea. The Independent cited unnamed "experts" stating the ghost ship carrying nothing but disease-ridden rats could be about to make land on Britain’s shore. "Salvage hunters say there is a strong chance it is heading" toward the United Kingdom. It is not made clear if the "salvage hunters" are the same as the aforementioned "experts" or if they are different anonymous sources. According to the Independent the lack of evidence of the ship being out there was further evidence that the ship is still out there: "Experts say the ship, which is likely to still contain hundreds of rats that have been eating each other to survive, must still be out there somewhere because not all of its lifeboat emergency beacons have been set off." Despite this story really being almost a year old, other media didn’t let that stop them from publishing headlines like NPR’s Rat-Infested Ghost Ship Might Be Heading For U.K. and The Irish Times’ Rat-infested Russian ghost ship drifts towards Irish coast. At least NPR noted in its report that Salon was skeptical of the ghost ship claims. Salon reported on the story but warned "here's a story that sounds made-up." And HotAir, a self described as "one of the largest right-of-center blogs on the Internet" said it was '"likely a hoax." The BBC did not give into the temptation and published statements from both the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard who both confirmed the ship had not been sighted since last year and that neither group was taking any action. The Guardian also attempted to inject some reporting into their journalism: "David Cameron's official spokesman made it clear that it wasn't top of the British government's worry list. "That one hasn't scuttled across my desk," was his pun-tastic reply when asked if Cameron had been briefed about the ship. Pressed over whether the navy would intervene he said: "Gosh, we're almost in a B-movie script development meeting here." Morris and Gani also endeavored to interview senior scientific officer Penny Hawkins from the RSPCA and reported that rats aren’t even likely to be cannibals. The Independent, which appeared to have started this whole mess, seemed also to be changing their tune. Its latest article on the subject began: "A ghost ship carrying a cargo of disease-ridden rats believed to be heading towards British shores may have sunk, experts now believe." The phrase “now believe” however implied that the experts have recently changed their minds. Writer Heather Saul tried to shore up the previous article as well as pass the blame on to the still anonymous source: "Salvage hunters hoping to trace the 4,250-ton vessel said they believed there was a strong chance it is heading this way." That was a far cry from the first article’s lede: "A ghost ship carrying nothing but disease-ridden rats could be about to make land on Britain’s shore, experts have warned." Alas, the story is still being circulated, for example the Tech Times published on Jan 26: "An abandoned cruise ship brimming with cannibal rats that have been drifting in the Atlantic Ocean for around 12 months might end up in the shores of Great Britain. According to experts, the Russian liner Lyubov Orlova that once carried 100 passengers, might drift on the west coast of Cornwall, Scotland, or Ireland."
Lyubov Orlova still reportedly floating on the high seas
A 4,000 ton, rat-infested cruise ship that was lost somewhere off the coast of Ireland, is still reportedly floating on the high seas. The ghost ship, named Lyubov Orlova, left Canada last January bound for the Dominican Republic where it was to be used for scrap. But it broke away from tow ships three times off the coast of Canada earlier this year and then sailed off on its final unmanned voyage. The Irish Coast Guard told the press this week that the ship could now be floating anywhere between Ireland and the Faroe Islands off the coast of Scotland. The remaining oil on board is not thought to be hazardous because of its limited quantity. However, the number of suspected rats on board could prove to be a serious biohazard, the coast guard told the press. Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Rat-infested-hazardous-ghost-ship-disappears-in-Irish-Sea-228910271.html#ixzz2iiliKVIz
No new reports of drifting ghost ship Lyubov Orlova
Four months after an empty Russian cruise ship snapped a tow line and drifted into the North Atlantic off Newfoundland her trail has gone cold. The Canadian Coast Guard says it has received no reported sightings of the Lyubov Orlova since March 12. At the time, one of the empty vessel's emergency radio beacons flashed an unconfirmed location almost 1,300 kilometres off Newfoundland. The beacon could have been activated after hitting water or another object. The ship was drifting toward Iceland or Ireland but there have been no recent sightings reported by European officials or other maritime agencies. "The owners of the Lyubov Orlova remain responsible for their vessel," Sam Whiffen, a spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said. On Jan. 24, the Lyubov Orlova snapped her tow line as she was being hauled by the tugboat Charlene Hunt to the Dominican Republic for scrap. 'It has ruined me,' co-owner says.Upload News