At the start of 2019 a company called Væv emerged and got massive coverage across the media. The company was allegedly selling dirty tissues for people to sniff; thus strengthening their immune system. Each tissue was being sold for $80, and by the time it received mass coverage they had already sold out.
The problem is, Væv never existed, and was actually just a joke in a Comedy Central show. The brand was created to poke fun at how good marketing can make any product appeal to an audience, even if it’s a terrible idea.
Whilst the brand did prove this, the biggest shock within the show was how reputable news sources also fell for the joke. The company’s CEO didn’t exist, the company wasn’t registered anywhere, there was no record of actual sales or customers; yet the mainstream media jumped on the story immediately.
The lack of research into Væv demonstrates how journalists think in 2019, writing whatever will engage audiences and releasing it as quickly as possible (or risk being beaten to the story by competition). If this comes at the cost of research and fact checking, so be it.
I mentioned this before in my other article about journalism: journalists meant to uphold the standards of society. One of these standards being that they reveal the truth when others don’t, yet this didn’t happen with Væv.
Of course, they weren’t providing positive feedback within their news stories. However, the massive coverage of Væv only resulted in more people wanting to purchase the tissues.
Comedy Central didn’t sell any, but the media’s reporting resulted in Væv getting requests to preorder the next batch of tissues (including one for a toddler) via their email. If Væv was a real business, the media would have been responsible for the selling of these virus filled products.
Luckily, nothing happened, but nonetheless Comedy Central have definitely exposed how careless reporting is a major issue across the media.