The Ontario (Wis.) County Line — a 2,000-circulation weekly paper — posted its annual April Fools column on Wednesday and sent it to print subscribers on Thursday. By Friday, the prank story about Disney buying a beloved state trail had created such an uproar — state Capitol protests were being planned, says the story’s author — that the Wisconsin DNR had to issue a press release knocking down the report.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants to assure the public that the DNR is not selling the Elroy-Sparta State Trail to Disney, as reported earlier today in an April Fools prank by The County Line newspaper in Ontario.
The article … was picked up by other news media [and] generated a number of constituent calls to the DNR and to local legislators from concerned citizens.
“Oh my God, this thing just boomeranged all over the state,” County Line editor Karen Parker told me on Saturday afternoon. “The worst thing is, our radio stations around here don’t spend any money on reporting, so they just read our news. Magnum Radio has 12 stations and they all read the story as a regular news story. The head PR flack [at the DNR] was not happy. They were getting all kinds of calls from people.” (The column had a”Lirpa Loof” warning, but many readers apparently didn’t figure out that that spelled April Fool backward.)
Parker, who has been the paper’s editor for 30 years, says: “I write one of these every year, and every year I get more absurd. I always do it as a lesson to people to be skeptical about why they read, but they never get it.”
* April Fools: “Disney to purchase Elroy-Sparta bike trail”
* DNR: We are not selling the Elroy-Sparta State Trail
* Editor: “I thought no one would believe it. Everyone did”
New York Post editor Col Allan: “My attorneys are today filing a formal demand of retraction from the Observer and its publisher.”
New York Observer editor Elizabeth Spiers: “It doesn’t make much sense to retract.”
The Observer reported Thursday that “among the names of various powerful men found in transcripts of the surveillance audio from the five-year-long investigation [of the Soccer Mom Madam] is one prominent media figure: Col Allan, the editor of the New York Post.”
* Observer won’t retract story about Col Allan and “Soccer Mom Madam”
* NYO: We never claimed that Allan was friends with the woman, only that she said he was on surveillance audio
* Allan: “Observer’s report is nothing but a smear and a lie”
Current TV has given Keith Olbermann the boot, saying that the network was “founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers [and] these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann.” Starting tonight, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer will replace him with a show called “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
* Current TV dismisses Keith Olbermann
* Open letter to Current TV viewers
Glens Falls Chronicle readers on Facebook were able to figure out that the report below about “Jersey Shore Season 6” being filmed in Lake George, NY, is part of an April Fools package, but an Examiner.com writer apparently didn’t get the joke. “Summer 2012 in Lake George could be very interesting,” writes Cassandra Secor.
The Huffington Post has reacted to a judge’s ruling against unpaid bloggers who sued Arianna & Co. Here’s the statement that HuffPo sent to media reporters:
“This judgment removes any question about the merits of this case and we look forward to continuing the mutually beneficial relationship we share with our growing roster of interesting, dedicated and engaging bloggers.”
Excerpts from U.S. District Judge John Koeltl’s opinion: “No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to The Huffington Post for publication and the plaintiffs candidly admit that they did not expect compensation.” “The principles of equity and good conscience do not justify giving the plaintiffs a piece of the purchase price when they never expected to be paid, repeatedly agreed to the same bargain, and went into the arrangement with eyes wide open.”
Huffington Post Media Group
* Unpaid bloggers’ lawsuit against Huffington Post is tossed. (Thomson Reuters)
* Philly newspapers, website sale announcement now expected on Monday. (Philly.com)
* Joe Posnanski quits Sports Illustrated for USA Today/MLB Advanced Media. (The Big Lead)
* Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Rex Babin dies at 49. (Sacramento Bee)
* How do you make stories about old, white businessmen visually appealing? (Capital New York)
* U.S. education system has never been better, but you wouldn’t know that from media reports. (AJR.org)
* “The Wire” creator David Simon was a muckraker in high school. (Washington Post)
* At least six laid off at struggling Maxim magazine. (TechCrunch.com)
A freelance photographer on assignment for the Newtown (Conn.) Bee noticed that a man claiming to be from the Bee was snapping photos at the same “War Horse”-related event attended by many children.
“She confronted him,” says Bee editor Curtiss Clark, “and he made a hasty retreat and disappeared.”
The impostor is described as white, about 60 years old, about 5 feet, 7 inches tall, “scruffy” looking, partially bald with patches of salt-and-pepper colored hair, and wearing a pair of thick, black-framed eyeglasses.
“I don’t know whether he was so disreputable-looking that he thought he’d be able to pass himself off as a reporter,” the editor told me, “but all joking aside, I’m waiting for an innocent explanation.”
“We actually have a reporter who kind of fits that description, but he was nowhere near there.”
* Police investigate report of suspicious photographer
This is just one of the many comments on my Facebook wall about Sarah Tessler getting fired for not disclosing her stripper job to Houston Chronicle editors.
- From Crimson White's April Fools' Day edition
“At first @TheCrimsonWhite got me,” tweeted Caitlin Hunnicutt. “I was really confused but then I realized its the April Fools edition.”
That’s the problem when April Fools’ Day newspapers are published on March 30 — you’re just not expecting the journalists to pull one over on you.
The University of Alabama’s Crimson White and Daily Nebraskan put out their April Fools editions today. Do you know of others? Please tip me off to them.
* The Compost (Allegheny College)
* University of Wisconsin Daily Cardinal (starts at page 9)