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Mugabe near death rumour: A well timed lie – A hefty payout for perpetrators
How a well timed lie could mean a hefty payout for the Zimbabwe Mail
Just over a week ago, the media were awash with ‘breaking news’: Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe was on a death bed in Singapore. He was ‘fighting for his life’, and was surrounded by his close family, all of whom had been flown to Singapore on a charter flight following his falling ill.
It was in the major newspapers, and was reported on television news as well: not once, but several times a day, over a period of several days.
It was all over Facebook and Twitter. Yes, once on Facebook and Twitter, ‘news’ spread like a wildfire! Ask Mubarak and his comrades.
In addition, ‘the President had already reached a deal for his long term lieutenant, Emmerson Munangagwa, the Justice Minister, to take over the reigns of ZANU PF and the country.’
And according the Zimbabwe Mail, the online publication quoted as the original source of the rumour, the ‘news’ came from a reliable source, a high ranking ZANU PF official who had broken ranks with others within the party and ‘leaked’ the information!
Others in ZANU PF denied it all, but who was to believe them.
This was no ordinary rumor
Unlike previous stories related to the same ‘event’, the information this time was so detailed that it was easily believable. There was no reason to suspect fraud!
So, when the usual Tuesday cabinet meeting was postponed, it all seemed to confirm the story that we already believed to be true.
But the prophet hadn’t seen this coming?
How did the Prophet T. B. Joshua fail to see this one, I wondered? Not that I believe in the prophet, but I have to admit, I have started listening. What with the recent ‘prophecies’, unpleasant as they may have been.
I waited for an explanation from Prophet T. B. Joshua. This impending death (if it had gone on to occur) would have occurred at the wrong time: we were past the third Thursday of April! After all, many, including the prophet’s close followers, had already indicated that the death that the prophet predicted was exactly that of the Malawian leader, the late Professor Bingu wa Muthariki. So, the prophet had not seen this one coming!
But, I guess, prophets only see what they have been shown.
The truth always comes out
So, as time never fails, all was to be revealed. The President arrived in the country, walking unaided! Even described as ‘fit as a fiddle’.
So, this story turned out to be a blatant lie. All the details of something that never happened, were made up! ZANU PF denials had helped keep the story alive and the world’ media abuzz, but the ZANU PF version was the truth after all.
One international paper justified the situation by blaming Zimbabwe’s restrictive media laws! What a strange thing to say: Is there a need to start a lie simply because you do not know the truth?
Was it all about publicity?
As we know, even bad publicity can be good publicity. Well, this one was big. Reputable newspapers and TV stations fell for it. If you hadn’t heard about the Zimbabwe Mail before, now you know about them!
An apology followed (more publicity), and we were also told that the relevant editors were fired as well! Wow, that’s even more news! Isn’t it. How did they fire them: via Email, Facebook or Twitter? What will happen when the Zimbabwe Mail starts racking in the benefits of this publicity? A bonus to the departed, perhaps?
Payday for well timed lies!
Did you know that such well timed lies can mean a hefty pay day for a publication? That this lie remained uncorrected for several days allowed it to penetrate deeper, and reach areas that would not usually get reached.
Yes, with a juicy rumour out, and the timing sorted and events on its side, the source publication enjoyed prominence and powerful advertising for several several days. All for FREE: They would have had to pay thousands for the same, if they had gone via normal routes. They are probably still enjoying the juice they gained. How is that?
Well, when someone quotes you as a source of information, they mention your name and/or add a link on their website to your article, and hence your website. That act can be worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. So much that there is an online industry where such privileges are traded!
The link is even worth more if it comes from a big player, such as the BBC, Reuters, Financial Times, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, New York Post, etc! Yes, the Zimbabwe Mail got mentioned in reports by those publications, either in the initial report (the lie), the subsequent revelation that this was untrue, or both.
The Guardian‘s Ian Birrell reports, “Zimbabwe sources confirm that Mugabe is ‘very critical’ & security services are on highest alert.”
Benefit 1: The first benefit of a ‘mention’ or ‘link’ is that it brings traffic (visitors) to your site, and boosts your advertising revenue. The story appeared in some of the biggest publications in the world, including the ones mentioned above, as well as other major publications in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Twitter played a major part too: the term Mugabe was trending! So, even if you were not exactly interested, Twitter put it right in front of you! It was publicity worth tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Perhaps, even more than that.
Benefit 2: The links obtained have further benefits. Search engines, like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, view anyone with lots of links, especially links from reputable sites, very favorably. That means that in the future, when someone types a search term such as ‘Zimbabwe’, or ‘Mugabe’ the search engine will rank this site higher than many, and make it more visible by bring it towards the top of the results. Again, that brings in more traffic and increases revenue.
I put it therefore that the Zimbabwe Mail’s worth would have shot up significantly following this otherwise unfortunate act!
A well timed rumour, a total fabrication of reality, can earn you a hefty pay day.
My view therefore, is that, even in the face of difficult economic times, the Zimbabwe Mail may have given itself a great boost, and will therefore live long after this!
I do not know how much they will get, but I believe it’s going to be quite significant.