Monday, March 31, 2008

Mea Culpa Monday: the Notorious U.W.G.B. edition

By Joe Uchill
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With the coming of April Fools, newspapers and magazines traditionally incorporate pranks into their pages as a way of showing their readers: (1) that the newspaper has a sense of humor and (2) that paying the cover price was an absolute waste of money. This adds new depths to the erroneous facts, phrases and photos that already appear in the newspaper. This week, while funny fake things will skate, many, many poorly chosen jokes will not. It’s the handing-out-apologies equivalent of Christmas.

Your week in hoaxes that went too far:

March 24: A story on Rickrolling gets Rickrolled. Ironic? Inevitable? Impossible to understand for people unfamiliar with the online meme where people trick each other into watching the music video for Rick Astley’s “Never Going To Give You Up?” Ask “Pawley P,” who edited a video to look as if he interrupted a college basketball game dancing midcourt to that awful, awful song. While the event never really happened, the New York Times sure believed it had. They referred to Pawley’s YouTube submission in the opening paragraphs of their story on the prank his prank was pranking.

March 26: Tupac Shakur’s murder once again becomes a mystery after an LA Times story solving the cold case is called into question. FBI forms showing that Sean “Puffy” Combs was involved in the assassination plot are revealed to be counterfeit by The Smoking Gun web site.  James Sabatino, frequent con man in rap-related fabrications and the provider of these documents, laughs from a prison cell earned through unrelated charges.

March 27: Time Out Chicago prints a letter from purported new publisher Donald Trump claiming that the Don has bought a controlling share. He hasn't. Sadly, Crains Chicago Buisness runs a story announcing the sale. It is quickly taken offline.

March 28: The UW-Green Bay student paper, The Fourth Estate, runs their yearly Fourth Mistake April Foolishness. A front page headline reads: “Favre is back for one more,” and is sadly believed by the community. Green Bay residents briefly rejoice before being thrust back into the mourning period for Aaron Rodgers from which they had barely crawled out only a few weeks earlier.

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