Monday, March 15, 2010

The Russians Are Coming! -not really

The New York Times reports that people in the Georgian Republic panicked during a broadcast of a satire that suggested a Russian invasion was occurring.

MOSCOW - Some people placed emergency calls reporting heart attacks, others rushed in a panic to buy bread and residents of one border village staggered from their homes and dashed for safety - all after a television station in Georgia broadcast a mock documentary on Saturday night that pretended to report on a Russian invasion of the country.

A key reason people believe it was real became obvious:

Producers at the IMEDI television station taped the episode in the studio normally used for the evening news broadcast, using an anchor familiar to the audience, and then broadcast the show at 8 p.m. Saturday with an initial disclaimer that many viewers apparently missed.

Oops. -Like that famous radio broadcast War of the Worlds, October 30th, 1938 that created some panic in parts of the United States, this one had people panicking . Cell phone service apparently crashed from overload. The program closely followed the H.G. Wells production "War of the Worlds" techniques such as using real TV footage of archived Russian Air Force bombers in the air compared to using simulated radio news bulletins that were used as part of the War of the World’s radio production.

Key to the trigger of the panic - many people MISSED the disclaimer:

The television station clearly identified the program as imaginary before the broadcast began. But viewers who tuned in later would have had to rely on clues. The fighting in the video was taking place in the summer, for example, not in March. Some images were from the 2008 war.

It all just goes to prove once again that we need use a little more common sense and be a little less willing to accept just anything and everything we are told -even if it comes from a reputable broadcast source (or a familiar politician).

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