Michael Schumacher is NOT The Stig

There was a lot of hoopla over the weekend over the identity of The Stig – Top Gear’s boiler-suited tame racing driver – after Jeremy Clarkson let it slip that his identity would be revealed in tonight’s new episode, the first of the latest series.

It was such a naked publicity stunt that I didn’t take much interest in it, but dashed of a quick piece from memory for the MotorTorque Blog, secure in the knowledge that there’d be plenty of search engine queries on the subject.

In the post I explained that the Stig would undoubtedly remove his helmet to reveal either Damon Hill or Michael Schumacher.

Clarkson would tease whether the F1 driver was, in fact, The Stig but it would evident to anyone with half a brain that thrashing a Honda Civic Type R around the Top Gear racetrack would not have been high on Schuey’s list of priorities as he was winning the last of his F1 titles.

This hasn’t stopped most news outlets reporting the news as if it were fact, regardless of the fact that it’s patently obvious that Schumacher has never been the Stig, apart from his exercise in hooning around the test track in a Ferrari FXX in a neat and rather blatant bit of product placement (Mike went on to reveal his love of the Abarth 500 and Fiat Croma) for both Fiat and Bacardi.

The news reporting riles me, as it’s so weak and lazy as to be insulting. It smacks of churnalism – the modern phenomenon of simply rewriting coverage from other news outlets, or press releases.

I’m not going to debate the pros and cons of churnalism, as almost every journalist in the land has to swallow their pride and dash off some rubbish based on online articles or PR bumph, but this instance is such a naked piece of headline-grabbing will-this-do? crap, which is actually untrue, that it’s quite insulting.

Needless to say the search engines are currently awash with ‘Michael Schumacher IS the Stig!’ headlines from news portals that have simply recycled each other’s reports, or cut’n’pasted Press Association articles.

Schumacher Stig

It’s annoying for smaller sites when larger sites can wield their page rank to monopolise search engines with dross like this – inaccurate dross at that – but it’s even more useless for users, who find the SERPS full of the same article loosely rewritten.

Clarkson, Schumacher, Bacardi and Fiat must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Schumacher is The Stig reports:

The Guardian:

The mystery surrounding who is Top Gear’s mysterious test driver, the Stig, was solved tonight after Michael Schumacher revealed himself as the show’s secret driver.

Yahoo:

Michael Schumacher revealed himself as Top Gear’s mysterious test driver the Stig.

Channel 4:

Michael Schumacher has revealed himself as Top Gear’s mysterious test driver the Stig.

The former Formula One driver took off the Stig’s famous white helmet during an interview with presenter Jeremy Clarkson after the studio audience urged him to reveal his true identity.

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