World war one commemoration – false news is nothing new

I bet that when our Stone Age ancestors sat knapping their flints they related tall tales about the terrible doings of their rival tribe, and exaggerating their own exploits in the latest dust-up. People have always demonised the enemy and doctored the news to put themselves in a better light.

Plenty of this went on during WWI, and not just in the media, which clearly was going to manipulate news to its and the government of the day’s purposes. Urban myths quickly developed (as they always have, before they were called urban myths), including stories of Russian soldiers being transported through England. You could tell they were Russian from the snow still on their boots – think about that for a moment and you’ll see why the story doesn’t even get out of the plausibility gate. Myths and Legends of the First World War isn’t a bad place to discover more on the subject, including how works of fiction became ‘true history’ in the form of the Angel of Mons or the legend of the English Bowmen.

We could do with paying heed to these examples of ‘truth’ turning out to be anything but. Before we retell or repost a news item we should check and double check that it’s reliably sourced, or else we’ll be just as guilty of spreading lies.

4 thoughts on “World war one commemoration – false news is nothing new”

  1. I can’t remember who said “a lie can travel round the world before the truth has got its boots on”

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