Hostettler: I-69 Name Change a Hoax - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Hostettler: I-69 Name Change a Hoax

An apparent Internet hoax is creating quite a stir at the office of Indiana 8th District Congressman John Hostettler. Angry callers have been responding to an article on the Internet claiming Hostettler had been convinced by religious groups, to propose changing the name of interstate 69 to a "more moral" sounding number. Hostettler spokesperson Michael Jahr says there is absolutely no truth to the story and calls the web site in question satirical in nature.

That web site is The Hoosier Gazette, which has been responsible for a number of news hoaxes over the past few months, including some that were picked up and re-broadcast or printed by national news organizations. We've asked Hoosier Gazette editor Josh Whicker to comment on the hoax. Josh has responded to our questions. Check his answers out below this story.

Meanwhile, the public is invited to give their opinions on which route is preferred for the highway project Thursday night in Oakland City. The input meeting will be at Wood Memorial High School at 5:30.

We asked Josh Whicker about the hoax and his web site, The Hoosier Gazette. Here's his answers:

Question: Why did you do this story?

Answer:  I get my story ideas from a variety of sources, but many of my best ones come from conversations I have with friends--this was one of those.  We were talking politics about a week and a half ago one night and came up with the idea.  I have nothing against Mr. Hostettler.  I actually voted for him three times when I used to live in the 8th district.  Just thought it would be a funny news story that some might believe was real.

Question: Why do you think your stories end up getting put out as valid news stories?

Answer: Most of my stories that are picked up as real get their start on Fark.com, a clearinghouse for strange or funny news stories, most of which are real.  Now and then one of my stories will be posted on Fark---a place where many legit radio, newspaper, and TV media outlets go for interesting news.

Question: Tell us a little about you and the site.

Answer: I am 29 years old and teach 7th grade geography at a middle school in Floyd County, Indiana.  My webmaster Chris Kasinger (a 1994 Reitz grad now living in New Whiteland) and I started the site just as a hobby about a year ago.  We have gotten almost a million views since, mainly because several stories from the site have been picked up as real.  The Indy Star did an article about us a couple of weeks ago: http://www.indystar.com/articles/0/190394-8740-047.html

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