Credibility and Confusion

Should news sites be allowed to run April Fools’ day pranks?

April Fools day, a celebration of mediocrity which over the years has escalated to the point of missing out on the true essence entirely.

Take for example the April Fools’ prank run by a Jordanian newspaper in 2010 where they printed that giant, 10ft aliens had landed in Jordan.

Mohammed Mleihan, the town Mayor, was fooled by the paper’s prank and sent security authorities in search of the aliens.

“Students didn’t go to school, their parents were frightened and I almost evacuated the town’s 13,000 residents,” he said. “People were scared that aliens would attack them.”

A Jordanian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss security issues, said an emergency plan was almost enacted.

Mleihan said he may sue the daily for its “big lie,” but added that the paper had called to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the joke.

What about War of the Worlds? Same MO, done in 1938.

I fell victim to two such news pieces – one was run (no pun intended) by Runners World where they reported that a Half Marathon record holder was voluntarily undergoing limb replacement surgery to replace his tired legs with sports prosthetic blades. The reason I was quick to believe this charade was that I had always been wondering out loud when runners would undergo such surgeries in order to run faster, as it was merely a matter of time (remember the Priest from Johnny Mnemonic?)

And then a TV series site posted that the much requested sequel to Smallville would be coming to screens in early 2014.

People expect to be pranked by our friends and co-workers, our colleagues and our neighbors, but not by the news, much like Doctors take an oath to do no harm to their patients, News agencies should be held to a certain standard in that they should not voluntarily post lies and fabrications, even with the intention of garnering a laugh, or two.

There are some folks out there who would not understand the difference on a specific day between news and fiction. Just ask the Major of the Jordanian town where aliens landed 3 years ago. It has nothing to do with not being able to take a joke.

Till next year.


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