Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird... or Whooshed?

I’ve been reading the News of the Weird for yonks. I’m generally the most skeptical, cynical reader of “too odd to be true” stories that proclaim themselves to be, in fact, true. Somehow, though Chuck Shepherd’s stories have always flown right below my radar - a little bizarre, a little humorous, but all in all, plausible. To the point that I’ve never double checked any of them.

But today, in my boredom, I was surfing through the site and with Chuck apparently on vacation, there were various hodge-podge items that apparently had been collected over the years - a Best Of type compilation.

Well the Best of got my Bullshit radar ringing so loudly that I had to start wondering. One claimed that a law firm sued a woman for expenses incurred by her son’s inconvenient suicide - bills for a replacement worker, travel expenses to her son’s house (finding him dead) etc.

So a Google of the relevant names only brings up other “articles” worded almost exactly the same - but none of them actually seeming reputable. None of them being the actual paper (The Times of London) that this was supposedly originally reported in.

Cue another where a man apparently walks into the federal reserve bank, with the intent to rob it. Finding no tellers, he hands the (signed!) stick up note to a security guard and chats while his demands are presumably being met. And proceeds to tell the guard how he just tried to hold up the Post Office, but was thrown out.

That one, too, raised a big ol’ red flag, and same as before. The only things I can find are all different iterations of the News of the Weird tale, none of them being official.

So have I been a rube all this time? Is NotW just BS?

I don’t know that he’s ever claimed to fact check these things, a la Snopes. I think that he just reprints articles sent to him by “alert readers” around the world. I’ve seen one or two items appear that I saw first in “respectable” news outlets. Think drunk guy driving home with dead, headless friend in the seat next to him.

Yeah I know some of the ones I’ve seen there were actual stories (and yep, I fully expect the headless drunk story to appear there one day.)

Had never occured to me though that all the stories weren’t at least somewhat true. Until I started reading the real whoppers, that is.

Our local weekly had an interview with Chuck Shepherd a few years ago. In it, I seem to recall he said that his fact checking is limited to verifying that the story ran in a non-tabloid newspaper. I think that usually people send him clippings (or links, I guess) and retells the story. Years ago, he used to name the newspaper that the story came from.

Didn’t Cecil get into it with Chuck a few years back? I vaguely remember it from on the of the books (it might have been about the gerbil rumor) but I couldn’t find it in the archive. As I recall, Cheuck got kinda snively and defensive about not checking out any fo the stories…