Journalist ‘astonished’ to have fooled media with Vatican hoax

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

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 47 inches, 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.

The Guardian has since removed its report on Sylvia the hawk, replacing it with a message reading: “This article has been taken down on 9 April 2014 pending investigation”. [More]


Catholic Herald