Vatican hoax: How truth flew the coop

Hoax fooled media

A British Catholic journalist has said she was astonished when major world news outlets mistook a Vatican April Fool’s report she wrote for a genuine news story, reports The Catholic Herald.

The Guardian, which this week won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting of Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks, was one of the organisations that reported the hoax story that the Vatican employed a hawk called Sylvia to protect the doves periodically released by the Pope.

Other outlets to reproduce the story include Agence France-Presse and the Washington Times.

Josephine Siedlecka, founder of Independent Catholic News (ICN), said: 'We have often done April Fool’s stories in the past but this one has been by far the most succesful. I’m astonished people fell for it. I thought it was too obvious.'

The story on ICN claimed that the hawk, with a wingspan of 120cm, was brought in after two doves released by children in St Peter’s Square in January were set upon by a crow and a seagull. According to the joke report, a spokesman said that the hawk would “act as an escort and protector” to the papal doves.

FULL STORY Journalist ‘astonished’ to have fooled media with Vatican hoax (The Catholic Herald)