Reading this article gave me cause to wonder : "does the WWN have and agenda(s) that they are trying to advance". The reason I ask is that this, and several other stories I've run across recently, seem to resonate very well with society's current concerns about the future. (Here we have genetic engineering, safety of the food supply and those silly vegatarians.)
Then we had the time travelling daytrader that played upon the fears about the honesty and stability of the financial system.
Does the WWN now write its stories to make a point? Or do the just have some writers that are very observant of current events and human nature?
Primarily a personal bias on my part, I'm not fond of mushrooms.
Heck, Quorn isn't even a proper mushroom! (There was a whole thread on Quorn about a year ago. There were some reports of people getting sick and blaming it on the Quorn. But I suppose we'd see that with the introduction of any new foodstuff.)
I've always thought that the WWN is written as pure satire, playing upon the unbelievability and the tendency of other American tabloids to publish and report upon unsubstantiated rumors and sensationalism.
The WWN, at least around here, is viewed as a total joke, whereas there exists a certain market who will read other tabloid papers (like the Enquirer, Star, ect.) under the illusion of becoming more informed. I've never known the WWN to be taken at all seriously, but in its value as satire, it unabashedly does derive material from current social fears/issues.
not that I'm trying to excuse my getting hoodwinked by that story:
The WWN definitely has a *nudge*nudge*wink*wink* factor going for it these days. I suspect that at least partially, this is due to the rise of the internet. They seem to be saying, "yeah, we know you're smart enough to see that it's all crap, but it's amusing crap", whereas the traditional tabloids still shovel it out without any sort of irony.
I think somewhere during the batboy saga, batboy was embraced by net.weirdos, and the WWN noticed an untapped market niche.
In the article "FLYING CAR WILL CURE GRIDLOCK FOREVER! ", they make reference to Moeller skycar, a "real" product.
They may not be "The Onion", but it definitely appears that at least part of their material is intended as satire. It's almost like a bunch of extropian-discordians have infiltrated a "conventional" tabloid.
We're in an age of turmoil within the traditional newsmedia. We've got the NYT going through a credibility crisis, CNN is, well, CNN, people watch FOX NEWS for news, and the Onion has been cited as a source by "reputable" news media.
To summarize : we expect tabloids to be crap. Conversely, the WWN seems to very cogently picking subjects to spoof and satirizing the form. A wolf in sheep's clothing?
As a long time reader of the WWN and its sources (including the Fortean Times and http://www.ananova.com), I can pretty much tell you the formula:
1. collect real news oddities and sprinkle them liberally through the pages;
2. add a few longer articles based on real news of the Would-you-look-at-that variety and tart them up until nobody would ever believe they are based on an article on the BBC website or in the Science pages of the New York Times;
3. set up a few running gags (Batboy periodically disappears for a while and then comes back over a period of several weeks, starting out as a couple of allusions in another story--possibly real news--and then more obviously until he hits his usual two page spread;
4. make up stories on popular themes.
The made-up stuff--is it satire? Is there anything in the WWN that is not satire? The most deadpan serious and solidly factual story can be made satiric simply by juxtaposition or context. The WWN is read by uneducated working class and lower middle class people who are supposed to believe this rubbish is real but appreciate it just as much as the college-educated readers who treat it all with irony--but the made-up looking stories are so often real news stories that there is a third level of irony which can laugh at the college boys laughing at the masses laughing.
And, of course, the writers and editors have their little jokes.
The secret to writing a WWN article is to pick your time--let a real news story sink into the public consciousness for a while, wait for it to be put on the back burner and then bring it back, tarted up, so that even the few people who remember the facts are left wondering ....
The WWN is rather like a good stew--it is better for setting a while, so that the irony and the facts get all mixed up.
I expect you could count as many as half a dozen different layers of error, truth, deception and satire in the average WWN article.
Satire, by the way, comes from the name of a Greek mixed dish which may well have been like the modern macedoine or possibly more like a cassarole or stew.
There is a serious reason for it. A local newspaper (the Luton Herald and Post) has just come out this week, after giving all its production staff the sack the week before. Alas and alack, certain members of production did not appreciate this redundancy, and sabotaged their work. Sloppy subbing let through a page 9 ad for an insurance company that included a box carrying the immortal words:
Quick compensation settlement
Courtesy car (on request)
Personal injury compensation
Loss of earnings
Out of pocket expenses
Giant black African dildos
I read about loads of good stuff like this somewhere but can't for the life of me remember where (it wasn't here a very long time ago was it?) One was a biscuit tin whose lid had a scene painted on it,the artist was cheated out of his proper wages for the job and painted in allsorts of offensive stuff into the picture,it was recalled when this was discovered and the remaining unrecalled tins are collector's items. There was something about banknotes with hidden breasts and swear words in the design too.
Sally might remeber this but a Vermeer (?) was "restored" and i think years latter someone pointed out up one side the folds of materiel actuly said Merde (shit) ... when this was revealed the museaum denied it but "re-restored" it so it didnt!
FT covered that a few years ago, I distinctly recall the piccy of straggly daffs spelling out the word SHAG.
I also vaguely recall something I read in a tabloid in the 80's, I think the article was by way of apology for the actions of an employee who had diddled with the reporting of a friendly football match between I don't recall who and the local police, the score report contained the words Met Filth - 3
City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production.
Then they learned, to their chagrin, that dihydrogen monoxide _ H2O for short _ is the scientific term for water.
"It's embarrassing," said City Manager David J. Norman. "We had a paralegal who did bad research."
The paralegal apparently fell victim to one of the many official looking Web sites that have been put up by pranksters to describe dihydrogen monoxide as "an odorless, tasteless chemical" that can be deadly if accidentally inhaled.
As a result, the City Council of this Orange County suburb had been scheduled to vote next week on a proposed law that would have banned the use of foam containers at city-sponsored events. Among the reasons given for the ban were that they were made with a substance that could "threaten human health and safety."
The measure has been pulled from the agenda, although Norman said the city may still eventually ban foam cups.
"If you get Styrofoam into the water and it breaks apart, it's virtually impossible to clean up," Norman said.
Official: Attempt on Mexico governor's life a hoax
Friday, June 4, 2004 Posted: 5:38 PM EDT (2138 GMT)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (Reuters) -- A reported assassination attempt in March that left a Mexican state governor in the hospital was a hoax, and the governor is accused of hiding the facts, the attorney general's office said on Friday.
Records show that a policeman died from bullet wounds as a result of the incident and most of the bullets came from the gun of the governor's bodyguard, the prosecutor's office said.
Oaxaca Gov. Jose Murat, who said he came under fire on March 18 as he drove to a breakfast meeting in the state capital, may have covered up the facts, deputy prosecutor Gilberto Higuera said.
"There is no information to indicate that this vehicle was the object of an attack, as was originally said," Higuera told a news conference.
At the time, a state government spokesman said unidentified gunmen opened fire on Murat's car. A policeman died in hospital of bullet injuries sustained during the incident and the governor was briefly hospitalized with minor injuries.
The attorney general's office said an initial inquiry by the local prosecutor in Oaxaca was plagued with irregularities and contradictions.
Reports of an assassination attempt on Murat, a member of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, sent jitters through financial markets and President Vicente Fox called it an attack on Mexican democracy.
Higuera said that three holes in the windshield of Murat's car had been made by bullets fired from inside the car, apparently from the gun of Murat's head bodyguard.
"We are not asking for Murat's immunity from prosecution to be lifted at the moment. We are deepening our investigation," he said. "We presume, of course, an agreement (by the governor) to hide the truth and he is the object of the investigation."
Higuera said more than 30 shell casings had been found lying around the governor's car from bullets that had also been shot from his head bodyguard's gun. He said he was seeking to arrest the bodyguards for giving false information and investigating the governor.
Oaxaca is one of Mexico's poorest states, and political tensions have risen sharply ahead of gubernatorial elections in August which will determine whether or not Murat is re-elected.
Murat said at the time of the alleged attack that he and his family had received at least 15 death threats since he took office in 1998.
Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved.
Which brought to my mind the alleged attempt made on General Pinochet in Chile in 1986, which was widely rumored (though I'm not sure if ever definitively shown) to be a fiction. Any other examples? -lopaka
I'd certainly be interested in doing a real one when I die (possibly see if I can't find a way to sneak occasional pictures of me holding up signs saying "get me out!!") although I'd have to abandon plans to have myself cooked and eaten my friends and family so......