Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's: No big concert .. just big laughs!

After only a few hours, I can't let it go much longer ...

As most of you figured out quickly, my blog post about the big Clapton/Zeppelin concert is an April Fool's joke.

There's no concert at the new U of A stadium ... and as far as I know, Led Zeppelin and Clapton won't be passing through any time soon.

Still .. it was a fun few hours as Matt Patrick and Krissi Taylor picked up on my prank and had some fun with the WKDD morning drive. Their listeners (most anyway) saw through the April Fool's prank right away.

Last year (check the archives), I posted a similar prank about a giant aquarium coming to downtown Akron complete with Shamu and a Disney hotel. Some folks called the Beacon Journal and the University of Akron just to be sure.

My point today -- beyond just having fun on April 1st --is to illustrate how easy it is to portray fiction as news. Just add a headline and a few photos , and a great many people buy into the story immediately.

Remember how War of the Worlds came about?

Now .. I know that my role as a journalist gives more weight to a story like this .. so I don't take my blog posts or stories lightly. I would never do something like this if it wasn't April Fool's day.

I teased the made-up blog via social media (Facebook, Twittter) this morning .. which also generated a great many "not-gonna-get-fooled" emails and responses .. but a few friends (Nadine!!!) got suckered. My sister-in-law called me immediately and said "I don't believe a word of it" before I even got to say hello.

Unfortunately, our station's twitter feed picked up just the headline as a new item and mass blasted it this morning ... but when I found out, I pulled it down .. although had anyone clicked on the link, they would have come to my blog and then decided for themselves on its validity. Other news organizations also sent a few April Fool's "tweets" today.

My friend Chris Hyser has his own take on his blog .. and thinks jokes with media involvement can go too far.

Still ... whether you like my April Fool's prank or not .. .ask yourself how many times you take a headline or quick broadcast sentence as fact? How many times you've bought in to an email only to realize later it's bogus? How many times you've almost gotten taken by a scam?

Scary .. isn't it ..

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Eric, but this was very irresponsible. You have an obligation as a journalist to present facts, no matter the day of the year.

While I knew this was a joke, I'm sure there were more people than you even described that took it as serious. What tipped it off? The Matt Patrick buddying up with Robert Plant part. Seriously, no one would want to be real friends with Patrick.

What are you going to do next April 1 if there is something serious to discuss? I know if you do, I won't believe it.

Eric Mansfield said...

I think "irresponsible" is a bit strong here .. if you didn't like it, that's one thing .. but irresponsible?

Again, this blog is MY personal blog .. it's not affiliated with my employer .. and I've kept it that way for a reason .. so that I can share my own thoughts and opinions on topics like the war, politics, etc ... and my readers know that.

Had I gone on the air in some fashion or published this info on an official news site, that would have been different.

It's ok to disagree here .. and that's one part of my blog that I invite from readers .. but I don't think "irresponsible" fits ..

stay in touch .. Eric

Anonymous said...

So am I an idiot because I fell for this one? I listen to wkdd in the mornings on the way to work and heard just a bit of your conversation about this. I got SO excited! I called my mom and told some people at work. You're not my favorite person right now. :P

Anonymous said...

Get over yourselves!! It was an april fools joke!! Lighten up people, you didn't wake up this a.m. and think who is going to prank me? Check the calendar will you? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools'_Day

This date is rooted in history

Anonymous said...

It does seem like a post on April 1st would be "fair game" to anything you wanted to say. You don't want everyone to have to check every post regardless of the day for validity do you?

Anonymous said...

This wasn't on April Fools day, it was posted on March 31st. I'm sure the "rules of jokedom" are posted somewhere on the Internet and this may not conform.

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