Belgian press agency wrongly announces royal death

17th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

It was a case of 'The queen mother is dead, long live the queen mother'...

BRUSSELS - Belgium's national press agency Belga erroneously announced the death of the country's queen mother, after a mischievous posting on its new twitter-style service.

On day one the new service was victim to a hoaxer who announced "the death of Queen Fabiola," widow of Belgium's king Baudouin.

She had been, the message said, affected by the divorce of prince Laurent, the younger son of Belgium's current King Albert.

The new service, called "I have news," is aimed at allowing ordinary citizens to tell of any interesting event they may have witnessed -- such as a train crash or a violent protest.

The messages, which must be a maximum of 160 letters, can be left with any pictures on and are delivered to Belga clients -- newspapers, TV channels, etc -- via the same wire service as their regular journalist-generated news.

The false information was written in Dutch and signed by the equivalent of "Mr. Everyone".

Later in the day the Belga management apologised for the "unfortunate" incident.

However in a separate statement Belga journalists called for the new service to be scrapped, voicing concern that the uncontrolled dissemination of information could affect the agency's credibility.


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