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April Fool's Day stories

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Moderator1, Mar 29, 2013.

  1. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    It is not even April Fool's Day (and I'd know because that is my daughter's birthday) - but a paper in Jersey has posted this:


    This isn't about that particular story, though I don't much like it. Are these types of things ever a good idea?
  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Only when they're executed as well as SI's piece on Brian Cole.
  3. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Easy now. Don't go down that path please. Stick to the topic and have a great It Isn't April Fool's Day Day
  4. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    Paper's I've been at a have done them a couple fo times, the only one that stands out as being at all memorable was at my first stop at a small weekly in rural Alberta. The Golf course was adding a back nine, and so we did a storyon them shipping aligators up from Florida to put in the waterhazards. Made sure we had the course on board with it. Spelled April Fools out with the start of each paragraph, made it more than obvious. Didn't think much of it until a few months later when we got a concerned phone call wondering when they were bringing the gators in. They had no idea it was an April Fool's story.

    Would I do something like this now at a daily? not a chance. But for a small weekly in the middle of bumfuck nowhere? Why not?
  5. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Last year was epic on college campuses. Romenesko had a review of it a couple days ago. Mizzou's Maneater called itself the Carpet Eater, which the ME said she had never heard as a derogatory term.

  6. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Just a bad idea all around. An otherwise-decent community paper around these parts does an annual April Fools' edition -- which the locals seem to enjoy, because they're idiots -- but about four years ago, the paper decided to post the fake stories online.

    Without the context of the printed page, these absurd "news" stories appeared to be the real deal. Especially the one about a local resort -- one of my clients -- closing its doors. Hilarious. Even more so when the "news" story popped into my inbox as a Google news alert and I had to make a few frantic phone calls to figure out what was happening.

    Once I learned my client was still in business and would be able to pay its bills after all, I made a phone call to the publisher of the community paper -- one media professional to another -- to explain why this was a stupid thing. To her credit, she agreed with me and had the stories pulled off the website within the hour. But as we all know, once it's on the Internet, it's out there forever.

    And four years later, the story about XYZ Resort & Club going out of business is still available via Google and Lexus-Nexus.

    So if you're thinking about an April Fools' edition, just don't do it.

    [ Updated to reflect AP style on April Fools' ... ah, the things you learn ... ]
  7. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    Our company newsletter has a classic today, one of those head-scratchers that almost seemed true, until you read the jump, where the publisher said, "Please keep this confidential" and added that if we didn't we'd be mocked as an April Fool.

    I don't like these things, but it so worked.
  8. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Co-workers pulled off a fantastic April Fool's package at a national website once. Nobody saw it coming. Fooled plenty of people, and they were entertained by the comedy and the creativity.

    They have to be clever and fun, though. And executed perfectly. Many are not done well.
  9. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    God, I hate these things.

    Every year the main news/talk radio station in town does one. No matter how stupid it is, half of our staff comes in that morning absolutely believing it.

    One year the prank was an announcement that all freeways through town were becoming toll roads, and the number designation was the price of the toll. If you were driving on the 101, you owed $1.01. It was going to be on the honor system -- just keep track and send a check at the end of the month. The Transportation Department spokesman played along and nearly got fired because of it.
  10. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Dunno why anyone would think you could do it with government concerns.

    One of the problems with April Fool's stories, besides that they've been done so much by now, is that many of them tweak the news just enough to fool people into thinking it's real. And that brings on panic reactions and ridicule.

    It was great when SI did it with Sidd Finch. But you can't copy that on other levels. My idea of a good April Fool's story is to make it clever and outrageous enough to draw a good double-take, but then it should be apparent that it's a joke.

    Look at the Onion. The best gag stories are over the top. The subtle pranks generate confusion and ridicule. And then people start passing them around as truth on Facebook.
  11. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Consistently stupid idea that should be left to the college papers and morning radio shows.
  12. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    It's so much of a staple that you wonder what's wrong with them when they don't have a stunt cooking.
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