Daily Star Outs GTA Rothbury

UK newspaper The Daily Star apparently believes that if it’s on the internet, it’s real. Hence their being convinced that the next GTA game would be a document of Gateshead gunman Raoul Moat:

No doubt a 4Chan or b3ta chucklester passed it onto them. Good work, chucklesters.

The Star – not exactly the UK’s most first-rate paper at the best of times – has now pulled the story, following Twitter and MCV discovering, laughing, screaming and howling at its open idiocy and failure to do even the most basic form of fact checking. Fortunately, I thought to take a screengrab of the whole thing first. It’s below.

WELL DONE THE DAILY STAR. Especially the bit where you went and deeply distressed one of the victim’s relatives by telling her about something that didn’t exist, because you didn’t make even a token effort to check that it did, in fact, exist.

Do note the More ‘news’ below button at the bottom. Says it all, really.


  1. Sam says:


  2. DrGonzo says:

    Well I’m struggling away on my parents mac. Steam has crashed about 15 times in the last 20 minutes, it keeps downloading Killing Floor out of nowhere when I’m not asking it too. The address bar in Firefox disappears if I minimize it and just general awful mac-ness is flying at me from all sides. I’m in a terrible mood.

    But, that story has brightened my day, some people are just so dumb!

  3. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    It is often the case the “journalists” on less reputable papers “misunderstand” things in order to generate controversy and thus sales / page views. I don’t doubt the quotes from the victims’ families are real mind you, just that they told the family it was real when they knew it wasn’t.

  4. Auspex says:

    I like how if you go to the Daily Star link you are met with:

    Why not check out the babes section?”

    What a classy rag!

  5. El_MUERkO says:

    tut tut tut, if the daily mash wrote something similar we’d say they were getting lazy :D

  6. Mr Pink says:

    Oh dear oh dear. I like how the button at the bottom has “news” in inverted commas :)

  7. jokewood says:

    how fitting that “news” is in quotes on the button at the page’s bottom.
    also sort of odd that all of the quotes are about the book rather than the game, isn’t it?

  8. Bostec says:

    This is some bullshit, I work in shop and have to go past this shitty rag everyday. On sunday it is worst with a big picture of some women with a picture of her knickers. The only good thing I can think of this paper is emergency bogroll.

  9. Unaco says:

    I also notice a paragraph (and therefore sentence) beginning with ‘And’. I think I learned the error in that when I was 6, maybe 7 years old. Same with ‘But’… I’m looking at you Dr Gonzo a few posts up^^.

    The majority of the media aren’t Journalists any more… they’re entertainers. It’s quite depressing.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      And the surprising truth is—there’s no error in starting a sentence with “and”. But some people still misguidedly believe there is, then perpetrate this foolish notion.

    • Chris D says:

      “And” is a word you should never use at the beginning of a sentence. Actually it’s more of a guideline really.

    • Alec Meer says:

      That’s a guideline for kids learning to write, not a fixed grammatical rule that forbids sentences beginning with a conjunction.

      But to give you your due, it is a common misconception.

    • Unaco says:

      The prohibition against starting a sentence with a conjunction is an arbitrary rule… but then, all of language is arbitrary rules. Words are abstract concepts, which we can only learn and understand through the education of, and adherence to, the rules. Certainly in a newspaper, which should be championing the standards of the English language, I would expect formal adherence to the rules of language, regardless of their arbitrariness. If we ignore this rule, then what next? Will we lose the apostrophe? Will proper nouns no longer be capitalised? Will we see “comprised/composed of” used interchangeably?

      This is one of the reasons that rags like the Daily Star can survive… People have no standards anymore.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Language is also historically mutable – with English especially being a mongrel collection of other nation’s language. If you resist change and flex, you resist how society and communication has evolved for millennia.

    • Taillefer says:

      When I was 6, I was taught that it’s “i before e, except after c”.

    • Unaco says:


      Yet, if we were to submit to change without resistance we would have an unteachable language. The English one generation learns would be so radically different from that learned by the next, that there may be no common features to it, and, so, limiting the efficiency of communication between the two. You say that languages evolve, and, indeed, they need to evolve… this I do not dispute. However, ‘evolution’ is not a completely free or one-sided process, it does not move, unimpeded in given direction… there are limits, restrictions and competing factors. There is a resistance to change in evolution. Biology has maintained certain standards (Bipedal locomotion, stereo vision) throughout primate evolution for example… surely language should also maintain certain standards.

    • Unaco says:


      Maybe that’s the problem… they’re only teaching the children SOME of the rules, and not all of them. It’s I before E, except after C, or when sounding like A, as in neighbour or weigh.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, but not starting sentences with ‘and’ because Victorian primary school teachers arbitrarily said so ain’t exactly that dramatic.

    • Unaco says:

      I feel we should agree to disagree on the ‘conjunction at the beginning of a sentence’ situation. However, surely my original complaint is valid… that it is not just a sentence being started with a conjunction, but a paragraph. There should be a clear delineation in subject between paragraphs, and so they should not be linked like that with a conjunction.

      Also, yes, I have resigned myself to the fact that I shall die alone, bitter, and angry at the world for accepting ‘refudiate’ into common parlance.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Unaco: I think you misunderestimate the mind’s capacity for self-justification.

    • Taillefer says:


      And that still wouldn’t be correct. But they’ve told teachers to stop teaching that now.

    • jaheira says:

      Alec –

      “Don’t start a sentence with an conjunction” is not an arbitrary guideline. It’s awkward to have to go back to the previous sentence to figure out what the “and” is harking back to. It breaks the flow.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Doesn’t Burgess famously start 4 paragraphs in a row with And in A Clockwork Orange?

    • MWoody says:

      The majority of the media are journalists these days, not writers. They slaughter the language on a daily basis, going so far as to remove the crucial Oxford comma from common use. It’s quite depressing.

    • Rath says:

      I was reading MAUL by Tricia Sullivan the other night, and discovered two seperate instances of “would of” rather than “would have”. I nearly burned said book in outrage. And that was before I realised that the plot was absolutely fucking horrible.

    • Saul says:

      In my journalism class, I was told that ‘and’ and ‘but’ are perfectly okay to begin sentences with. It’s standard journalism practice. Look at any paper, trashy or otherwise.

    • Mr Ak says:


      Not at all. It’s a temporal relation, indicating progression.


      “I went to the shops, bought some ice-cream. While I was there, I ran into an old friend of mine, had a good long chat about the new Spice Girls album. Then I went to the deli and purchased some whale jelly for my sandwiches.

      And it was only when I was walking home that I realised that the Spice Girls had broken up years ago, and that my friend had moved to South Africa. And that I must be dreaming.

      The dancing statues of Jesus were a hint.”

      It’s a perfectly acceptable way of indicating progression of linked subjects, although obviously one that can be considered extraneous if you’re aiming for maximum brevity.

    • Jerricho says:

      In a comments thread about a tabloid rag irresponsibly printing made up stories we have found ourselves complaining mostly about their grammar. I love you RPS hivemind.

    • dadioflex says:

      @Unaco – for someone who has a beef against using “and” at the start of a sentence, you sure use “however”, another conjunctive, at the start of a lot of your sentences. Check your Strunk, man. You’re embarrassing yourself with your slipshod languageing.

  10. Evlyxx says:

    LOL, I like how they tyr to belittle those attempting to make blood money, when the press are the biggest culprits of this.

  11. Rick says:


    That is all.

  12. pupsikaso says:

    Author Vanessa Howard defended her book… is the book real? Or is that a made up quote for a made up book?

    • TeeJay says:

      Vanessa Howard has some similar-themed books (ie. about murders etc) on amazon. I very much doubt she has written it yet – just been commissioned to write it / sold the rights.

  13. Demon Beaver says:

    Dear Daily Star,

    Welcome to the Internet.


    The Internet

  14. Bleeters says:

    The way our press handled this entire incident is already an embarassment, this is just the final underlining insult.

  15. subedii says:

    The saddest part isn’t the story, it’s the fact that people believe this stuff every single day. If it’s printed by a newspaper, it’s real. So tabloid rags compete in a battle of lowest common denominator headlines, trying to out outrage each other.

    The tabloid press in the UK is ridiculous (I know, where isn’t that the case). Ordinarily I’d have a hard time being upset with the sheer brain haemorrhaging stupidity that they print on a daily basis, except for the fact that I know people trust and believe in it.

  16. Tim Ward says:

    It’s not just obvious rags like the Daily Star, British newspapers in general are full of massive fail when it comes to fact checking.

  17. Bascule42 says:

    Thought Id share this email to The Star with you…

    To the newsdesk…

    This might interest you.

    Over the last few days it has emerged that one of our best known British tabloids has fallen for the most henious of hoaxes. It concerns the recent tragic events in Rothbury and the supposed plans to release a game, using the Grand Theft Auto name of all things. I’m sure you know that the GTA series of games has been one of the most popular and best loved franchises ever to be released, and that the British developers Rockstar Games, along with Rockstar Games NYC/North/Toronto/Japan/Leeds/Lincoln/London/San Diego/Vancouver/Vienna, are one of the top names in the gaming industry.

    With this in mind, it is astounding, nay beyond belief, that a veteran UK newspaper could possibly fall foul of a photoshopped mock up depicting a series of crimes that had the nation holding its breath, and one of the most instantly recognisable game franchises in the world.

    And to compound matters, perhaps the worst thing about this is that this newspaper actually got quotes from Miss Stobbarts grandmother, 69, and her sister 27! Talk about rubbing salt in the wound and pouring vinigar in the eyes. I can almost hear Roy Castle singing “Litigation’s all you need”.

    To the journalist in question I would say Google is your friend here. Even Wikipedia. Or in extremis RTFM!

    Well, I hope this story provides as much asmusment as it has done for me, and many in the gaming communities scattered all over the WWW.


    PS, this is the Daily Mirror newsdesk??

  18. Lack_26 says:

    The local Evening Chronicle picked up on it, but at least they realised it was a ‘sick spoof’ but the wording is suspiciously similar to the Daily Star article. I suspect that there was a little bit of copy-paste going on somewhere.

  19. Shazbut says:

    Any powers of empathy I have fail when it comes to tabloid journalists.

  20. Deston says:

    I see I’ve been beaten to the punch, but I’m going to go ahead anyway:


    Oh UK tabloids, you do know how to make me lol. I do just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to ponder just how many people will read articles exactly like these, day in and day out, and take them as factual, and the combined effect this kind of mass misinformation has on the effectiveness of democracy….

  21. kwyjibo says:

    I would have spotted this had I not been iDosing my tits off.

  22. Dolphan says:

    David Crystal, who’s pretty much the foremost authority there is on the English language, uses starting sentences with a conjunction as a major example of something that some people claim as a ‘rule’ that has long since been made out of date by actual usage; it’s no more a mistake than splitting an infinitive is.

  23. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    This broke your internets. For me, at least.

  24. Navagon says:

    Ha ha ha! Wow. Looks like the ever classy Daily Star is in danger of sinking to the Daily Mail’s level.

  25. Hulk Hogan says:

    What a great ‘story’.

  26. jeremypeel says:

    Pretty hilarious, though unnecessarily upsetting for the grandmother and sister. That tempers my amusement somewhat.

  27. MD says:

    Shame on the Daily Star indeed, for “deeply distress[ing] one of the victim’s relatives by telling her about something that didn’t exist, because you didn’t make even a token effort to check that it did, in fact, exist”. And equal shame on whoever took advantage of the Daily Star’s incompetence, playing a crucial role in causing that distres.

    Why are you celebrating the latter? Sure, they made a public point about the Daily Star being a worthless rag with no journalistic standards or integrity, but a) I doubt that’s news to many people, and b) they could have done it in a way that didn’t involve causing extra distress to a murder victim’s loved ones.

    • JB says:

      @MD -Surely, if the Star had actually checked this out AT ALL, they would have found that it was clearly not real? I don’t see that the spoofer is responsible for the newspaper distressing the family members.

      Also, the woman whose family members were quoted wasn’t a murder victim, she did get shot but luckily her arm shielded her internal organs.

    • MD says:

      I stand corrected on the ‘murder victim’ part, and I’m glad to hear it. But the fact that the Star are a bunch of incompetent idiots doesn’t absolve the prankster of guilt. (I’m assuming that someone passed it to them intending to fool them.) Each party played a crucial part in causing the outcome, so both of them are morally culpable. One is guily of ridiculous professional negligence and incompetence, the other is guilty of deception causing emotional pain to vulnerable people.

      If this was a case where both parties had believed it was real, then sure, the Star would cop the lion’s share of the blame given that it’s their area of ‘expertise’ and they’re the ones who actually published it. But in a case where someone sets out to deceive them, I can’t see how you wouldn’t blame that person (and the paper, obviously — it’s not an either/or situation) for any obviously-forseeable negative consequences of their success.

    • MD says:

      (The “causing emotional pain” bit obviously applies to both parties; I didn’t mean to imply it was a point of difference.)

      But basically, say there’s this guy who lives on my street, who’s known to be a massive gossip who’ll spread some pretty crazy rumours without checking them out properly. But for whatever reason he’s also respected by quite a few people, and has access to a lot of trusting ears. I tell him a story about someone shitting on a bunch of graves at the local cemetery. It’s obviously ridiculous, but I present it as fact, knowing there’s a chance he’ll swallow it & then spread it. He does, and unsurprisingly the news eventually reaches friends & relatives of those whose graves were supposedly shat upon. This upsets them. Did I do anything wrong?

    • MD says:

      I’m happy to drop the ‘equal share’ bit, and replace it with ‘significant share’. Personally I’d need more information about intent to decide exactly how much to blame each party, in a moral sense.

      (I know I’m massively nerding out about this, and most likely nobody cares anymore. But my first post came because of a genuine belief that Alec and others were being unreasonable, and the rest have come because I’m a massive nerd about this sort of stuff, and I find it interesting to outline these things as clearly as possible and share interpretations.)

    • jsdn says:

      You’re dancing in a moral gray for most people with that analogy. Who’s more wrong in such a situation is fairly subjective and contextual. I personally believe it’s a very basic responsibility for a tabloid to check their information, and if someone can teach them this basic lesson (even if it inadvertently mildly upsets some people) they should do so.

    • MD says:

      “I personally believe it’s a very basic responsibility for a tabloid to check their information”

      So do I.

      “and if someone can teach them this basic lesson (even if it inadvertently mildly upsets some people) they should do so.”

      For me this clearly comes down to a weighting of [benefit from showing them up] against [damage caused by doing so], and also the question of whether or not the benefit could be achieved in a less damaging way.

      Alec attacked the paper for “deeply distress[ing] one of the victim’s relatives”, so on his account this wasn’t a case of “mildly” upsetting people. I also think that ‘inadvertently’ is a rather generous interpretation. Sure, they might not have realised the paper would directly contact a relative of a victim. But if they didn’t realise that the appearence of the story would upset those affected by the tragedy, they are just as incompetent in their basic human role of ‘considering the consequences of one’s actions’ as the paper was in its basic media-outlet role of ‘checking facts before you fucking print them’.

      As for the ‘less damaging option’ question: I’m pretty sure that when you’re dealing with a newspaper this shit, there are plenty of ways to show them up that don’t involve salting the wounds opened by a recent tragedy.

      “Who’s more wrong in such a situation is fairly subjective and contextual.”

      I’m happy to concede this. All I’m saying is that on Alec’s account the paper is guilty not simply of incompetence but of causing deep distress, and that if this is the case then the other party who played a necessary role in doing so (and could reasonably have been expected to realise this would result from their deception) should also be condemned. Focussing one’s disapproval on the paper is fine, but praising the pranksters is a bridge too far.

    • jsdn says:

      “All I’m saying is that on Alec’s account the paper is guilty not simply of incompetence but of causing deep distress, and that if this is the case then the other party who played a necessary role in doing so.”
      I can agree with this, but I also don’t feel it is the case. I think they were only mildly upset, and Alec just wanted to rub it in using hyperbole.

  28. Santiago says:

    You can try, but you can´t beat us. Please take my hand and follow me through the rabbit hole:

    link to grumpygamer.com

  29. Collic says:

    This made my day.

  30. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Just spotted this:

    link to mcvuk.com

    “The Daily Star journalist who penned yesterday’s story claiming that a Grand Theft Auto game based around the recent Rothbury shootings is in the works has stated that he’s surprised by the reaction to the piece.

    Furthermore, speaking on his Facebook page Lawton chose to make a further dig at gamers.

    “Baffled by the fury of adult gamers,” he wrote, as reported by Destructoid. “These are grown (?!?) men who sit around all day playing computer games with one another who’ve today chosen to enter the real world just long enough to complain about my story slamming a Raoul Moat version of Grand Theft Auto!

    “You would think I’d denied the Holocaust!!! Think I’ll challenge them to a virtual reality duel….stab….I win!!!”

    Lawton’s comments are unlikely to win favour with an industry already irritated by his ignorance of the medium.”

    • pipman300 says:

      “you want me to check my facts before spouting my dumb mouth off? well you’re a bunch of manchildren!”


      daily star’s new slogan

  31. pipman300 says:

    hey i heard jerry lawton beat a man to death on the steps of a church someone oughta run that story

  32. PHeMoX says:

    It’s just one of those desperate and downright pathetic attempts to link video games to real life crime.

    The fact that no GTA game features a Columbine scene says enough. They’re not about glorifying real life crimes, nor encourage real life crime. It’s all about doing what can’t be done in real life, together with providing entertainment.

    Especially the latter gets the emphasis and if it’s alright to show violence in movies, then so must it be in video games which are essentially the very same thing. There’s no such thing as a ‘murder’ simulator, heck most movies would explain more about real life violence than any game controlled by mouse and keyboard ever could.

    Anyhow, end of my rant, this ish is crazy. Good move on making that screen cap.

  33. Kast says:

    “I can’t believe someone wants to make money out of people that have been killed,” and “This game is beyond belief.”

    Well, exactly! Beyond belief, yet YOU believed it.

  34. Spaghetti says:

    It is ironic that the only person making money out of this is the writer of the article.

  35. deejayem says:

    Victory – of sorts, anyway.

    link to pressgazette.co.uk