Maurice Jarre died on March 28. Hours after hearing of the French composer’s passing, Shane Fitzgerald — a sociology major at Dublin University who is taking a class about the spread of information on the Internet — added the following quote to Jarre’s Wikipedia page, attributing to the deceased man.
“One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear.”
In a result that is both shocking and not surprising at all, outlets across the globe, including The Guardian, picked up the quote and used it in obituaries honoring Jarre.
At least one paper learned a lesson it should have already known. “The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn’t use information they find there if it can’t be traced back to a reliable primary source,” the Guardian‘s Siobhain Butterworth wrote in a note explaining the mistake.