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When April Fools jokes go wrong

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Deskhack, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. Deskhack

    Deskhack Member

    So, the local minor league baseball team (short-season Class A, Padres affiliate), the Eugene Emeralds, send out a press release last night saying that Jeremiah Masoli, disgraced Oregon quarterback, has signed to pitch for them this summer, at about 10:45 p.m. Turns out, though, that it's a joke perpetrated by the team. The local TV stations breathlessly report the hoax, leading their local newscasts with it, and the next day, everyone figures out that it's a joke.

    The interesting thing about this? Apparently the TV stations called the PR flack who sent this out, and she confirmed the story. That's what gets me about this, the TV stations did their job as journalists and still got screwed over.

    Did the team maybe go a little too far here? And should the flack maybe think about finding another line of work?
  2. mythirdalt

    mythirdalt Member

    The whole April Fools thing is getting pretty old. It's funny to play on your friends, but has been overplayed as big public stints since Sidd Finch. Newspapers doing it all over their web sites today was just annoying.
  3. mythirdalt

    mythirdalt Member

    public stunts, not stints... i type all day. what the hell am i still doing on a computer??
  4. Deskhack

    Deskhack Member

  5. Harry Doyle

    Harry Doyle Member

    I thought it was funny. And the Emeralds came clean pretty early in the day. It was wrong of the PR people to confirm it as news. All in all, though, I thought it was a good prank.
  6. zonazonazona

    zonazonazona New Member

    This is just stupid. I'm not advocating great journos to leave for PR, but THIS is why the best journos make the best PR people... they understand that YOU DO NOT DO THIS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!! Even if it's just a stupid joke. Someday, someone important (not you idiot PR lady) is going to lie about something important, media is going to report it, and stuff is giong to hit the fan... not trying to blow it out of proportion, but that lady's reaction gave me NO reason to think she wouldn't do this again with a "bigger story" in the future at her next PR gig...

    Watching the grin (on the video) on that j-school reject's face made me sick. Really bad form. Have Manute Bol sign to play a hockey game. That's a minor league PR stunt. Making a joke, and perpetuating a BLATANT LIE (not to mention using Masoli's name...i know he isn't necessarily the most liked guy, deservedly so, but still...) is ridiculous. Again, grand scheme: not a big deal, but the principle REALLY does mean something here...
  7. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    My first weekly paper would do April Fool's joke stories each year for a few years. We'd have some localized story on some outrageous thing, then at the end of the story, we'd reveal it was an April Fool's joke.

    My editor one year got the town attorney to cooperate for a joke story on him landing a guest starring role as a lawyer on a TV show. I got the local star high school wrestler to cooperate on (you guessed it), a fake signing with the WWF. It was all in fun, although we'd always get some complaint call each year. The publisher finally put a halt to it after about five years.
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I can think of no easier way to piss away the one thing we should cling most stubbornly to, our credibility, than to engage in such piffle.

    There's sh*t you're supposed to get out of your system at the college newspaper: Using all the fonts, color headlines, April Fools jokes.

    P.S., The PR person shoulda been fired for not letting the TV station in on the "joke" when asked directly.
  9. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    God, I fucking HATE April Fool's Day. We spend all day calling on stories to confirm that they're real, and getting flooded with stupid pranks.

    Our county attorney sent out a press release announcing that he's resigning to run for another office. We nearly blew it off as another stupid prank. It turns out the asshole really is resigning.

    If I'm at one of those stations in Eugene -- and oddly enough I've worked at two of them, and used to shoot a lot of the Emeralds games -- I now doing everything in my power to get that PR person fired and an on-camera apology from the team. I would seriously consider ending coverage of the team until she's gone. The team needs the coverage far, far more than the station needs the team. At the very least, I do not speak to that PR person again in a professional capacity. We can see how much the owner enjoys taking all of my calls that used to go to the flak.

    On a tangentially related note... man, did I love going to those games. Single A short-season baseball in a classic old wooden ballpark. Minor league baseball is vastly underrated, and far more entertaining than the big league version.
  10. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Active Member

    A daily I worked at some 10 years ago would actually do an April Fool's edition of the paper every year. Everything in the paper was legit except for the centerpiece stories on each front. The publisher loved it, even though the paper would be inundated with calls for a few days while people tried to put 2+2 together.

    It was a small-town paper, and the one "prank" I remember was a story about Planet Hollywood buying out the very popular, very historic local diner. That one caused quite a ruckus.

    Can't really recall the sports ones we did because the SE and myself weren't happy about giving what limited room we had to a fake story.
  11. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    One other note on this...

    The local news/talk radio radio station does a big April Fool's prank story every year. A few years ago it was that the state Dept. of Transportation was making all freeways in the area toll roads. The toll was determined by the number designation of the road: I-10 would be a dime per trip, but the Loop 101 would be $1.01. You were supposed to tally up how much you owed each month and then send a check.

    People bought it, because (a) they're talk radio listeners, so most of them are morons, and (b) they had the PIO of the department on the air explaining how it would work and acknowledging that the DOT knew it would be unpopular, but that it needed the money.

    He was suspended by the state, as I recall, and came within a hair of getting fired. He is by all accounts a great guy, and is generally very very good at his job. But wow, what a horrible lapse in judgment.
  12. Deskhack

    Deskhack Member

    Yeah, LOVE Ems games. Sadly, the old wooden ballpark is out this year: The Ems are moving to the UO ballpark after the school district announced it intends to sell Civic Stadium and the land as surplus property.
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