Today is April 1. There is no joke attached to this statement, merely a matter of fact.
But it is April 1, also known as April Fools’ Day, a time when some are known to play pranks, make things up or in general be pests. A great many people love it. Others absolutely dread it. More than a handful plain don’t get it.
Which is why today, April Fools’ Day, the Times-News contains no pranks or jokes; no fictitious stories or bogus news of any kind — at least none that I am aware of. I can’t be held responsible for what wire services might report about people running for president. Hard to sort reality from the satire there to be sure.
So you won’t see any falsehoods like this in the newspaper today:
In an unprecedented move, Chapel Hill town leaders have decided to annex Saxapahaw in Alamance County. “It makes sense,” the mayor of Chapel Hill says, “it’s sort of been like an occupied territory for quite some time.”
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: May be too theoretically plausible)
Oh, we thought about perhaps perpetrating something hoaxworthy specifically for April 1. It’s not like newspapers or other publications haven’t done so from time to time. Many years ago, Sports Illustrated had author George Plimpton write a rather lengthy story about a mystical baseball pitcher by the name of Sidd Finch who could fling it 168 mph. The main headline was “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch.” The supporting head, though, spoke volumes. It read, “He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent lifestyle, Sidd’s deciding about yoga — and his future in baseball.”
Take the first letter of every word in the supporting headline until the dash and it reads “Happy April Fools’ Day.”
Trouble was, people believed the Sidd Finch story back in 1985 and weren’t happy at all to find out that a French horn-playing monk wasn’t joining the New York Mets rotation with a fastball that could almost outrun the Millennium Falcon.
So, because some April Fools’ Day jokes can backfire, readers won’t find this kind of fake story in today’s Times-News.
Head of the class!
The state Board of Education reports that Alamance County Commissioner Bill Lashley has applied to open his own charter school. No teachers will be employed at the planned facility, where students will listen to instructional recordings on old Close ’N Play record players obtained at yard sales. Students will be fed chalk for lunch with ketchup sufficing as a vegetable.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Didn’t this actually happen already?)
Speaking of the Sidd Finch incident, our own Frances Woody had a similar experience a few years back. She once wrote a column for April Fools’ Day. She said the first letter of the first word of every paragraph when put together spelled “April Fools’ Day.” In the column, she announced plans to resign from the newspaper.
“Lots of people called to cancel their subscriptions,” she recalled.
That’s definitely not what we want. So there will be no fabricated stories like this one today.
Sheriff opens jail annex as bed and breakfast to generate revenue for the county. “Can’t beat three hots and a cot as a vacation spot,” the bumper sticker reads.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Heeyyy, that might be an idea.)
Back when I worked for the Jacksonville Daily News, we had an entertainment magazine that often published fake stories for April Fools’ Day. We stopped after the one in which we wrote that part of Camp Lejeune would be used for a new virtual military theme park with actual military equipment used as rides. We called it, “Marineland, for Real.”
The newspaper may still be getting calls about that one.
With that in mind, then, we positively decided not to produce a sham story like this one.
Wrasslin’ for revenue!
North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue and House Speaker Thom Tillis will engage in a series of professional pro-style wrestling matches with the winner determining what services in state government get funded and what do not.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Way too believable.)
Yes, from here on out, we’ll leave the April Fools’ stuff to a publication called The Onion, which spoofs newspapers, TV and internet news outlets all the time. For The Onion — which has headlines like “Drugs win drug war” — every single day is April Fools’ Day.
I wonder if anyone ever cancels their subscription?
ADDENDUM: This is just one reason April Fools’ Day pranks by newspapers is a very bad idea.