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UAE publications re-print fake press release
Source: BI-ME , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: Sun September 24, 2006 12:00 am

UAE. A recent investigation by Communicate magazine revealed that many leading UAE publications will print corporate press releases without bothering to check the facts.

In July, the magazine wrote a fictitious press release about company opening a factory to manufacture non-melting ice in Dubai. It sent the release to 24 UAE publications, four of which reprinted the press release despite obvious false statements, according to the September issue of the monthly magazine.

The hoax was an attempt to test the theory, often advanced by local public relations companies, that many UAE publications suffer from poor journalistic standards and will republish press releases as news articles.

According to Communicate’s fake press release, sent to all leading UAE-based business publications and websites, Anchorage Industrial Co will build and operate a high-density pykrete manufacturing plant in the Jebel Ali Free Zone. The press release describes high-density pykrete as 'the ice that never melts'.

“We thought that by itself would be a good-enough warning sign for professional journalists, especially in July, just as they were settling into Dubai’s sweltering heat,” the magazine wrote.

The press release stated that pykrete – an actual substance consisting of ice and sawdust or wood pulp – 'has passed several rigorous tests, including being the only form of sustenance carried by a three-man team in a 56-hour hike through Death Valley, California, the harshest landscape on earth.'

AME Info, Al Bayan, Al Khaleej and Gulf Today published the dubious press release word-for-word. Only one UAE publication, Gulf News, called the number given and questioned the information.

“To be sure, the Middle East’s media scene is fraught with greater problems than this one, including official censorship and political bias. But as long as leading publications fail to check their facts, it’s unlikely the media’s bigger problems will be fixed anytime soon,” the magazine wrote.

Communicate, published by Paris-based Medialeader Group, is a business-to-business monthly covering the Middle East media, marketing and advertising industries.

 

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