Tuesday 14 September 2010

When a newspaper makes a mistake, it's a Small World

A few days ago, a story emerged of a mother who had been given a suspended jail sentence after she had seriously neglected her three children, and her dogs, because she had become obsessed with an online computer game called Small Worlds.

But picking up agency copy without checking the facts for themselves, the Mail and Sun have accused the wrong game of being involved in the case.

The Sun's (now-removed) article said:

A mum let her two dogs starve to death and neglected her three kids after becoming hooked on online game Small World.

The Mail's article by Jaya Narain, which is still online, claimed:

The 33-year-old woman played the Small World game almost non-stop on the internet for months while her children were reduced to eating cold baked beans straight from the tin with their fingers.

Both papers identify Small World, instead of Small Worlds. Small World is not an online game but a board game. It is available on the iPad but not in an online version. And it isn't on Facebook, as the Mail (inevitably) claim. The game's publisher, Days of Wonder, has responded:

In a classic case of “Google Journalism”, erroneous press reports from British newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Sun that implicate Days of Wonder’s Small World board game have spread like wildfire over the internet.

The stories mistakenly blame the Small World board game as the reason a British woman neglected her children and let the family dogs die because she was so addicted to online game play.

We can only assume that the so-called “journalists” mistook Small World, for a similarly named online virtual world.

While unable to spend a few minutes fact-checking to learn that their story could not be possibly true (Small World has no online play – the only digital version is the two player Small World for iPad); they were able to search our website to download graphics of the board game and further smear our name.

They continue:

Days of Wonder categorically states that the Small World board game is not in any way connected to this tragic story and we are asking the papers in question retract their stories.

And a statement from Days of Wonder CEO Eric Hautemont says:

"One wonders if reporters check their sources! The information published on the websites of the Daily Mail and the Sun has spread like wildfire on the Web. The copyrighted images attempting to incriminate our Small World game have circulated from England to Australia and no one bothered to check if this was indeed the right game in question."

He adds:

Days of Wonder is currently considering legal action regarding this misrepresentation of the Small World board game and hopes the newspapers responsible for these defamatory statements will give similar coverage to a retraction.

It seems the Sun have taken note and taken their article down. When will the Mail?

Moreover, this wasn't the only error in the Mail's article. Originally, they had included a screenshot from yet another game, Warhammer, which also wasn't involved in the case.

According the Willard Foxton, Warhammer's lawyers had the image removed from the article yesterday afternoon and received an apology.

When will Days of Wonder receive the same?

(Hat-tip to Dick Mandrake)


  1. It never fails to amze me that not only do some papers run the same stories, but that they actually cut and paste them. Many times, I've read the same story verbatim on two/three different online newpapers.

  2. As of 2pm story is still up on the Mail website. 2 interesting comments on the article are;

    And, "Small World", the cause of the addiction, gets off scott free ?

    - Graham, Sheffield, 12/9/2010 19:21

    Broken Britain! We so need a dictatorship.

    - Reg, York, UK, 12/9/2010 19:24

  3. feminazery has also done a great piece on this story.

  4. Surely Reg From Sheffield's comment is intended satirically?

  5. I do like the term 'google journalism' just about sums up most of the articles in the Daily Mail.

  6. Sue! Oh please do sue the papers involved...it is in the words of the tabloids, "the only language these people seem to understand".

    And yes got to love the term "Google journalism"


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