End of April Fools’ articles?
Readers, we need your feedback.
Is it still acceptable to pull April Fools’ prank articles?
This publisher was in a printing pickle, when our Ryan Reynolds spoof went viral and was shared as many as 40,000 times, albeit, indirectly.
Unless you live under a rock (or offline) you will know that misinformation is a huge issue. In fact, it’s becoming an existential crisis that can upturn everything from national elections to international warfare. Add to that the worrisome fact that trust of the media is at an all-time low — only 42 per cent of Canadians say they trust the news, and in the U.S. that number is among the lowest in the world at 22 per cent, according to the Reuters Institute’s 2022 Digital News Report. (Thanks alot, Fox News.)
And here we are, a little country paper with an annual tradition that goes back nearly 20 years of spinning some yarns every April 1st. Our primary goal is to make readers smile (oh, the thought of Ryan Reynolds living in Chelsea sure brought some smiles) and our secondary is to apply a little satire to a hot-button issue (like the no-swim swim rocks of Wakefield and the ad for Survivor Quebec - The Anglo Edition). Some of our favourites include the year Chelsea council banned the colour yellow, new “dry swim” classes at the Wakefield centre, and the edition we announced our printer was using fruit-flavoured inks (after which a diner at the now-defunct Alpengruss restaurant was spotted doing a taste test).
We look forward to this edition each year — we laugh ourselves silly in the newsroom dreaming up spoofs, and laugh even harder when someone gets busted licking the front page of the paper!
Our policy is to make sure to include some kind of April 1st reference, and to restrict the spoofs to just the print edition; that way there’s less chance of our fake news story being spread too far. But spread it does, and so maybe we are riding a line that has become too fine.
As we approach our 50th anniversary, we are taking the opportunity to toot our own horn and remind the community about the importance of local, accurate news created by diligent reporters and editors, whose job it is to get the facts straight. (And let me slip in a shameless plug for our upcoming event that will hash out these topics and more May 26 as part of the Wakefield Writers Festival. Get your tickets!)
Times change, maybe our annual tradition has run its course.
What do you think? We want to know. Send an email to email@example.com.