A day to report the 'real' news
Headline of the Day:
Grand Duchess Anastasia found living in Kulpmont attic, and she's opposed to the new borough building
There's hardly been a year over the past four decades that someone in our newsroom hasn't looked at the calendar around March 28 and said, "Hey, we should put out a special edition for April Fools' Day. Wouldn't that be great?"
It'd be a hoot, all right.
Bigfoot sighted at AOAA; big fan of off-roading
We could include the kind of stories that we're itching to write, but never could otherwise because - well, they'd all be made up.
Sky tram to connect Merriam and Natalie mountains - yodeling lessons held en route
We could write the stories that never could happen, but really should.
County commissioners are nice to each other, share kumbaya moment
Just think how amused our readers would be.
Record-size swordfish caught in Shamokin Creek - hiding under the Eighth Street bridge
We'd make them do a double-take.
County school districts merge: Miltmountshiksham Area
Just think how much fun it would be for the staff to let loose and go "Weekly World News."
Little green man from Mars jailed for unpaid fines; he parked his UFO without plugging the meter
Holy moley, you could build an entire April Fools' Day edition around extraterrestials.
Three-headed Arugalian marries bow-legged transvestite Vesuvian
People honestly believe the government knows more than it's saying.
Obama to make state visit to the planet Gloph
The news is so deadly serious every day, don't the readers deserve a break?
Scientists cross skunk with hyena - it's not bad enough the new guy stinks, he laughs about it
Or something for pushy parents who think their own little darling is so precocious.
Newborn baby comes out singing 'Rigoletto'
A little touch of terror is always in vogue, especially if it's bat-crazy ridiculous.
Satan sells snow cones to mine fire tourists in Centralia
Or, something that sounds like it could be in the X-Files:
Alarming case of numerical cannibalism: Seven Ate Nine
What about the heart-melting, warm-and-fuzzy story that makes you go "ahhhhhhh" and then eat sugar straight from the bowl?
Sweet little Suzy sells her Betsy Wetsy dolls to pay off Shamokin's debt
You can never go wrong skewering politicians.
Hillary dresses like herself for Halloween, scares kiddos
Or tiresome celebrities.
Kardashians debate fourth dimensional ramifications of string theory
Say what you will about the yuch factor, somehow you just want to read on.
Granny rinses false teeth daily in toilet bowl
Or what about interesting, but obviously unproven, assertions?
Men's bald heads secrete powerful pheromone that's irrestisible to lady wrestlers
Or, from the "it's certainly worth trying" department
Daily dose of wine reduces public flatulence
By universal agreement, the best journalistic April Fools' Day prank of all time was the British newspaper Guardian's travel report in 1977 about a country called San Seriffe that was comprised of semi-colon-shaped islands. It was a clever joke because the proper names that were used (such as San Seriffe, Bodoni, Garamondo and Pica) referred to printing fonts or typographical lingo.
April Fools' Day editions have been attempted by college newspapers where students make the mistake of assuming the world shares their sense of humor and satire is always well accepted. Public apologies, well-publicized changes in staffing and/or faculty advisement and threats for withholding of contributions by rich alumni are the most likely results.
Much as we can all use a good laugh, the attempt to populate a newspaper edition, section or page with fictitious reporting, no matter how well done, requires perfection, maturity and a clear understanding of the publication's readership.
If you're going to attempt such an April Fools' Day project, you've got to do it exceptionally well, like our friends who promoted a vacation to beautiful San Seriffe - or you'll pay the ultimate price for your journalistic frivolity - temporary unemployment at best or professional disgrace at worst.
Reporting the news is a complicated social contract. If readers conclude that every word they read isn't absolutely true, the contract is broken and it just might never get repaired.
That is why funny fake news is great for funny and openly fictitious publications, but not for serious newspapers.
Pretentious columnist breaks neck; suffers from long fall off his high horse
(Jake Betz is an assistant editor of The News-Item.)