[Estimated reading time 2 minutes, 35 seconds]

Ivan Stancovic does not consider himself a journalist and certainly does not share the philosophy of working for the publics need to know. But he´s the editor in chief of “Focus News” a website of notorious fame.

Måns Mosesson, on the contrary, is a journalist. He is educated, experienced and working for one of the most distinguished mastheads in Sweden, the main Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter who is part of the self-governing media body Pressens Opinionsnämnd[1] that forms a vital part of Sweden’s media-regulatory system.

Before he found publishing Stancovic was a jobless Macedonian with few hopes for the future according to Mosesson´s reporting in Dagens Nyheter: “I have been out of work for four years”, Stancovic told Mosesson. “So, this is perfect for me. I can sit at home and make money and even have a smoke at the same time.”

En bild som visar text, skärmbild, dagstidningBeskrivning genererad med hög exakthet In 2017 Mosesson traced the defecation story to[2] the basement of Stankovic’s fathers house in the village of Kumanovo in Macedonia where he met Stancovic and his computer.

In December 2016 Stancovic posted an article on “Focus News” about Muslims defecating and masturbating in a church in Sweden. “It was a real hit”, Ivan says to Mosesson.

He then posted a link to the story on his Facebook page which reached 12,880 of his followers. They in turn shared it 110 times and according to Mosesson’s research 3,324 Americans clicked through to “Focus News”.

Eleven percent of them also clicked on one of the ads, each click worth 0,06 US dollars, making Stancovic a total of 22 dollars.

En bild som visar skärmbildBeskrivning genererad med mycket hög exakthet

The story emanated from the local Swedish daily Kristianstadsbladet who on its website 7th December 2016 reported on how the local church was desecrated by unknown people. “[The parish warden] does not know who these disrupting persons are… …they are not the usual homeless people, known to the staff, but ‘a new clientele’”.

“New clientele” was in reality drug addicts visiting a rehabilitation clinic across the street and sometimes in need of shelter to take their drugs or relieve themselves.

But “new clientele” was quickly connected by xenophobic websites to the influx of 163 000 Syrians fleeing the war to Sweden in 2015. That´s the way Stancovic found it and perfected it by adding the word “Muslims”.

And he wasn´t alone. According to a Buzzfeed investigation[3] [4] at least 140 similar pages could be traced to Macedonian trolls in 2016, all with names like USA Daily Politics, US Conservative Today, and World Politicus.

So… Who dunnit?

Well, the jury is still out. Mosesson´s on site reporting in Kristianstad certainly doesn’t support the idea that Muslims or even refugees had anything to do with the desecration of the church.

One of his interviewees at the train station in Kristianstad says she knows the man who left the dirty present in the church: a swede, living in Kristianstad, with mental issues. “He was in a psychosis. A lot can happen then. It wasn’t at all about desecrating the church or being rude or something. It’s his brain that’s not working.”

22 dollars. That was the price to get worldwide attention to Kristianstadsbladets journalism – it only needed to be “perfected” first.

/Updated 20190426/

  1. https://po.se/about-the-press-ombudsman-and-press-council/ accessed 2019-04-13

  2. Clippings\From this basement came a piece of fake news about who had desecrated a church in Sweden – DN.SE UPPDATERAD 2017-03-27 PUBLICERAD 2017-02-18.pdf Downloaded 20190323.pdf https://www.dn.se/nyheter/varlden/from-this-basement-came-a-piece-of-fake-news-about-who-had-desecrated-a-church-in-sweden/ accessed 2019-04-13

  3. “ Over the past year, the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) has experienced a digital gold rush as locals launched at least 140 US politics websites. These sites have American-sounding domain names such as WorldPoliticus.com, TrumpVision365.com, USConservativeToday.com, DonaldTrumpNews.co, and USADailyPolitics.com. They almost all publish aggressively pro-Trump content aimed at conservatives and Trump supporters in the US.”Clippings\How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News Posted on November 3, 2016, at 702 p.m. ET accessed 20190330.pdf

  4. Clippings\Macedonia’s Pro-Trump Fake News Industry Had American Links, And Is Under Investigation For Possible Russia Ties accessed 20190330.pdf