North Korea Falls for Internet Hoax that Kim Jong Un named Time Magazine ‘Man of the Year’: Newsweek/Daily Beast commissions story but decides to not publish because while a “good news story” it is not “not very funny”.
By Nate Thayer
Here is a short example of the day in the life of a freelance journalist in 2012.
At 3:53 PM I sent a message to the Assignment editor of Newsweek/ The Daily Beast offering what I thought to be a good story that North Korea had fallen for an internet hoax that Kim Jong-un has been named Time Magazine’s Man of the year today.
You commissioned a story by me back in August on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s new wife and I am inquiring whether you are interested in another North Korea story. Today, the official North Korean media announced that Kim Jong-un had been chosen Time Magazine person of the year, apparently having fallen for what had been an internet prankster website effort last month to get people to vote for him on Time’s public voting campaign. The Korean Central News Agency has a top story out today that leads with “The U.S. magazine The Time selected the dear respected Kim Jong Un as “man of 2012”.
Time did not name Kim as man of the year and in fact had said days ago that the public voting by internet was not going to be a deciding factor. That choice is made by the editors of TIME and will be revealed tomorrow, Dec. 19, on the Today show, on TIME.com and via TIME’s Twitter handle. “Some of the highest vote tallies got a boost from members of Internet forums like 4Chan who launched a campaign to manipulate the results, pushing North Korea’s supreme leader to the top of the list,” wrote TIME in early December.
In November, the internet site 4chan started a campaign to get people to vote for Kim online as Time Person of the Year, and created a program that allowed for repetitive, automatic votes, skyrocketing Kim Jong-un to leading the polls at 5.6 million votes, ahead of the new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
In 2009, the site launched an online effort to vote its co-founder, Chris Poole, as the World’s Most Influential Person, and out polled Bernie Madoff, Oprah Winfrey and the president.
The North Korean media report comes days after they launched a long range ballistic missile that is designed to reach the U.S. that caused global consternation. Tommorow is the first anniversary of Kim Jong-un’s reign as leader of North Korea.
This comes only weeks after the official the Chinese party media organ People’s Daily fell for the Onion’s satirical story naming Kim Jong-un the “sexiest man alive.”
I have all the details and can get the story in promptly if you are interested. Please give me a shout back one way or another.
At 4:09PM, I got a reply back: “Yes, but can you do a quick, tongue-in-cheek piece for us, filing today? no more than 600 words, please.”
At 4:15, I messaged back: “Louise: Will do. Give me the latest deadline time and I will have it to you before.”
At 4:16, she responded: “Some time before 10 pm tonight. And make it funny!”
At 4:19 Pm , I replied: “ Louise: No worries. I will have it in well before that. And I will be at my wittiest. On another matter, I never was paid for the last piece, Can you make sure to forward me the details of who to be in touch with regarding payment for both pieces?
At 4:20PM she replied: “Jane Frye will be in touch regarding payment. And thanks. “
At 5:49,PM, I sent the story along with a graphic showing the winners of the TIME poll spelled out “KJU Gas Chamber” and accompanied by this message. “Louise: Here is a story on Kim Jong Un named Time “Man of the Year”. Attached is an important graphic which shows the hacked Time poll was manipulated to make the top 14 winners red “KJU Gas Chamber.” I am at phone number 443 205 9162 where I will be walking my dog, but back before 7:00 pm on the computer. Please let me know you received this ok.
I went out to walk my pal, Lamont, in the park to romp with his friends and returned early at 6:40 PM to find this message from Louise at Newsweek/Daily Beast which had been sent at 5:55 PM:
Thanks for the quick file. As a news story, it’s good but, and I don’t know how to say this, except, it’s not very funny…
Given how little bandwidth we have in terms of editing, I think it’s not going to work after all. I’ll make sure you get a kill fee, of course, and hope that you will still write other pieces for us.
So apparently Newsweek/Daily Beast doesn’t consider that a “good news story” deserves to be published given its “limited bandwidth” because “it’s not very funny.”
So much for what remains of the news part of what remains of “Newsweek.”
Plus I disagree that it was insufficiently humorous.
Not to mention, just watch over the next 24 hours as this story takes off over the internet, given it has all the ingredients of what makes news news these days.
So, once again, I am posting much of a days work on Facebook for free. Here is the story as written without any edits:
“North Korea has fallen for an internet prankster’s joke announcing today that dictator Kim Jong-un has been chosen Time Magazine person of the year after computer hackers manipulated the online poll to catapult the young dictator to the lead while making sure the first initials of the following vote winners spelled out “KJU Gas Chambers.”
The Korean Central News Agency trumpeted a lead story today headlined “U.S. Magazine Selects Kim Jong Un as Man of 2012” saying “The U.S. magazine The Time selected the dear respected Kim Jong Un as ‘man of 2012’” after polling ” politicians, businessmen, artistes, sports persons and announcers.”
In fact, the website 4chan , a community of self styled underground hackers skilled in computer coding manipulated the entire online TIME poll pushing Kim to the top with 5.6 million votes—twice as much as the second runner up, “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart with ”Undocumented Immigrants” in third place.
If one scrolls down the list of the top 14 vote getters, the first letter of each name spells out “KJU Gas Chambers”.
Time magazine denied on December 13 that Kim has been named their 2012 “Person of the Year” and said that “some of the highest vote tallies got a boost from members of Internet forums like 4Chan, which launched a campaign to manipulate the results, pushing North Korea’s leader to the top of the list.” Time magazine acknowledged its online poll had been hacked and made clear its editors would select the winner and make an announcement on December 19. The choice for TIME person of the year will be made by TIME editors and announced tomorrow on the Today show, on TIME.com and via TIME’s Twitter handle.
But apparently the North Korean government didn’t read the TIME announcement and, days after it launched a ballistic missile test believed to be an attempt to perfect its ability to reach the continental U.S. with nuclear warheads, announced that the accolade had been bestowed on the baby faced twenty something leader on the anniversary of his first year in power.
A December 18 story from the official government news agency, KCNA, said “The magazine has selected and published “man of the year” every year from 1927. This year…more than 5.6 million people, the greatest number, voted for Kim Jong Un.” The story added that “The U.S. magazine Forbes, dealing with the most influential persons in the world on Dec. 8, carried photos of his revolutionary activities and introduced his brief biography.”
In November, 4chan started a campaign to get people to vote for Kim online as Time Person of the Year, and created a program that allowed for repetitive, automatic votes, skyrocketing Kim Jong-un to leading the polls at 5.6 million votes, ahead of the new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
And this isn’t the first time that TIME has fallen victim to 4Chan hackers. In 2009, the site launched an online effort to vote its co-founder, Chris Poole, as the World’s Most Influential Person, and out polled Bernie Madoff, Oprah Winfrey and the president.
This comes only weeks after the official the Chinese party media organ People’s Daily fell for the U.S. satirical publication, The Onion, which named Kim Jong-un the “sexiest man alive.” The Onion published a spoof poll in November, naming the “devastatingly handsome” North Korean leader the world’s sexiest man of 2012.”