December 17, 2008

AFP defends its hyped up story!!!!‏

The story that a Bangladeshi film producer has claimed that he has spent 58 million dollars building an exact replica of the "Taj Mahal" was first reported by AFP and then quickly picked up by the MSM in Bangladesh, India and International media.

Some Bangladeshi bloggers went to see what the fuss is all about and were disappointed with the findings and claimed this as a money making scam to milk the visitors with exorbitant prices. Aparna's post at Global Voices reveals all that which ends with:
"With Bangladeshi bloggers uploading their first-hand experience of visiting the site through posts, pictures and videos, it is only now we are getting the real picture of the “fake Taj” story."
Ethan Zuckerman noted in his blog:
"It’s pretty common for professional journalists to complain about poor fact checking in blogs, and the possibility that bloggers will hype stories that professional journalists would have quickly and easily debunked. Here’s a classic counter-example: an international press agency hyped a story which helped rip off Bangladeshis, who used blogs to debunk the story. Here’s hoping the international outlets hyping the story will pick up on the corrections as quickly as they seized on the story."
Yesterday AFP published a followup article which defended their first story!! Its notable that this time they have placed the claims of the cost and the materials within quotes to indicate that it is a claim by the builder. Earlier they had reported it as if it was a fact.

However they quoted visitors reactions including the Global Voices report this time:
Bloggers too have reacted angrily to Moni's replica, which he claims is life-size. Aparna Ray concluded that the hype surrounding the attraction was a gimmick. "[It's] a money-making scam in the name of the Taj," Ray wrote. "The tiles look like the type you'd use in a bathroom. We've been cheated by this guy," another blogger wrote.
Apparently they finally went there and interviewed the producer. "There's nothing I can do if a visitor is disappointed," he said and AFP reported as it is. And AFP also reported that he will next month raise the entry fee from 50 taka to 100 taka.

I like many disappointed Bangladeshis want to see those "imported marble and granite from Italy, diamonds from Belgium and used 160 kilogrammes (353 pounds) of bronze for the dome" as reported by AFP (did they check those?). And I would also like to see how much tax this guy has paid for the income(?) of "$58million (an unbelievable some for Bangladesh -per capita income $1400)" he spent on this Taj Mahal as he claims.

May be the bloggers will have do it for us again.


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