April Fools 2015 Round-Up: Apologies, Retractions, Budget Fights, Laughter & a Missing ‘Pest’
The student press has emerged mostly intact from April Fools 2015, but the parodying and satirizing did leave one A-list outlet publicly bruised and another locked in an odd free press fight. Oh, and some humor actually happened too, sans controversy.
Here are the cringe-worthy and chuckle-worthy highlights and lowlights.
1) The Record became The Wreckard this past Wednesday at New York’s Buffalo State College. Faux news stories focused on a statewide snacking ban, drone strikes on school leaders, “total frat boy B.O.” and a fun first-person piece by Brian Williams pretending to report from a Buffalo snowstorm.
The university’s student government apparently fielded a few complaints about content — and then went bananas. The SG leadership informed the paper via email they were immediately freezing the publication’s budget and ordered all remaining copies of the satire issue’s 2,000-strong press run to be removed from campus newsstands ASAP.
Apparently, cooler heads have prevailed. The SG’s initial overzealous idiocy, funding shutdown and copy-removal edict have been overturned. But it did lead to this classic, annual, just-replace-the-school-each-time news story header: “Buffalo State newspaper’s April Fool’s edition stirs controversy on campus.”
2) In the week’s most high-profile “sorry, oops” moment, The Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia posted a public apology and pulled a pair of stories published in its April Fools issue. The pieces under fire and now removed from the CD website parodied a recent racially-tinged campus incident involving police and a black fraternity event.
A portion of the apology: “The April Fools edition is meant to start a conversation and provide satirical commentary on important issues. The April Fools edition is not meant to come at the expense of our peers. We neglected to foresee that these pieces would come across as the latter, and for that, we regret their publication.”
3) The Daily Pennsylvanian pranked a portion of the Internet roughly a week before the big 4/1 with the publication of its annual joke issue. In its most buzzworthy piece, the student newspaper satirically revealed that “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson was planning to attend the University of Pennsylvania for graduate school.
Umm, yeah, not so much. But many on the Interwebs fell for it. The beyond-bestest part of the whole shebang: Vanity Fair posted an entire Watson-going-to-grad-school story only hours after the DP joke issue dropped. Then came the mea culpa and an updated headline: “Emma Watson Is Not Headed to Grad School.”
The article caused enough of a stir that Penn officials felt compelled to set the record straight. A tweet from the school’s official Twitter account confirmed Watson was not relocating to University City in the fall and reminded its 58,000 followers to check their calendars.
— Penn (@Penn) March 25, 2015
4) The Post at Ohio University said to hell with April tomfoolery. EIC Jim Ryan explained in a note to readers the student paper would not transform from The Post to The Pest this year.
As he rationalized, “The annual insert is often confusing to readers. It’s not appropriate for our reporters to write parody accounts of topics they cover. Our jokes, more often than not, are funnier to us than our readers. The news pages occupied by ‘The Pest’ can be better used for, well, the news. Perhaps I’m curmudgeon, or maybe I take The Post too seriously. But I’m not a fan of ‘The Pest’ and am glad our staff focused on reporting the news instead of offering a satirical take on it.”
One former Post editor from more than 40 years ago disagrees. As he writes in a letter to the editor, “The Post’s decision not to publish an April Fools’ edition, in one succinct word, sucks. Your whole staff thinks journalism cannot be delivered via humor? Does Jon Stewart not have news value? Or ‘Saturday Night Live’? I was forwarded your sanctimonious explanation by other former Posties. We all agree. It’s just…wrong.”
5) There was, by the way, some controversy-free laughter produced by campus papers nationwide on or just before the trick-fueled holiday. Here are embeds and screenshots of some successful April Fools 2015 student press issues and stories.