A Few More Fake New York Times Details

2008_11_faketimes5.jpgThe elaborate fake New York Times stunt may have cost up to $250,000. Though the group claiming responsibility for printing and distributing over one million copies of a July 4, 2009 edition says their costs were $100,000, the NY Post's experts believe that printing a 14-page, 4-color paper are closer to a quarter million for that many copies.

Also, a number of groups were involved: A press release mentioned "The Yes Men, the Anti-Advertising Agency, CODEPINK, United for Peace and Justice, Not An Alternative, May First/People Link, Improv Everywhere, Evil Twin, and Cultures of Resistance" among others.

Another interesting wrinkle: Apparently NY Times journalists contributed articles to the project, which the Yes Men co-founder Andy Bichlbaum said was "our way of communicating what change should really look like." Anti-Advertising CEO Steve Lambert told the Daily Intel, "There were a few people from the Times — we can't tell you who they are. They're respectable journalists." Hilariously, when the Post's reporter asked Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis about that, she said, "If you give me the names, I can check."

There was a mixed reaction from some readers: One person joked to the Daily News, "In this edition, did the New York Knicks finally win a championship?" while a former Marine and Iraq veteran said, "I feel like I've got mud on my face. This looks like the real thing."

And there won't be another printing--Lambert said there are other things planned, but in the meantime, you'll have to settle for the website.

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Comments (17) [rss]

i didn't take a copy on the subway yesterday morning because i thought it was stupid and a huge waste of time and money in a time where liberals should be focusing their time and money on other causes (you know, things that make a difference).

i still think its stuipd today.

This one of the smartest, best executed PR pranks I've ever seen. It's really well done, smart, funny and has a great message.

@neckbeard and emilydickinson and others:

Click on the link that reads "the fine print" and then call this a waste of money or a PR prank.
Well-executed and, perhaps, worth the money in terms of attention and energy for the organizations involved.


great message...

in a time of two wars, the undoing of progressive civil rights movements, unemployment at an all time high, lets spend $250,000 and all of our time pulling a prank that does nothing but attempt at proving a point that would've been more relevant a week ago than it is now.


great message, enormous waste of money and paper.

it's a creative and nicely-executed way to get your message across; it sure beats a bunch of pampered cyclists causing traffic jams all over town.

edex said it way better than i did.

If we do an ad value assessment here, the coverage is way, way past $250k here, so I would say that is a positive return on investment.

Whatever the standard estimable cost for such things, it's worth considering how much of the materials and/or labor were donated by people in on the gag. If I had a printing press, I sure would have given them a price break.

I'm curious why some of the commenters consider this a waste? Can you be more specific about your reasoning?

It seems to me that even if you think their point is disagreeable, their message has reached many people, and gained admiration for their project and attention for both their point and the organizations they support.

Sounds like money well spent.


Those things are going for a fair amount of money on eBay - an auction that ends at 2pm today is already up around $60. If the group wanted to recoup some of their costs, they could've held on to a couple thousand and trickled them into the market a few dozen at a time.

I'm amused by the inclusion of Improv Everywhere on the list of all those serious political organizations.

@ virgil. why do i consider it a waste?

1. its a waste of paper, energy, and ink sources.

2. anybody who thinks it to be a "great" message probably already thought it to be a great message before then. if you don't agree with the message, you're probably more annoyed than further educated.

3. right now isn't the right time. like it or not, people only care about one thing right now: jobs. it sucks, and there a lot of things that are more important or as important, but there's a time and a place to discuss these things, namely after January 20th when we've got a new government that (at least seems to) give a shit about the future of this country and this world.

I was curious what the prank might have cost also and I did my own armchair analysis this morning.

I came up with a number close to the 100k estimate provided by the pranksters themselves.


1. That could apply to most periodicals found on a newstand.

2. That could also apply to many periodicals.

3. Is it ever the right time?

It was their time and money - you don't have to buy the newspaper or the message.

neckbeard, if the paper and ink wasn't used to print this, it would have very very likely been used to print up newspaper ad inserts. My vote is that this is a better use of the resources. As for the cost, well, no one took any money from you, so why complain?

I guess that's what I'm wondering as well; there's so much ink and paper wasted every day on much more forgettable material; why is this the item that makes you stop and say "what a waste"?

From your response, it sounds like you think the money they spent on this should have been spent on something that helps people more directly, instead of satire. Is that about right? If that's your point, and tell me if it's not, I think it's fair if you isolate it, but why single this one out?

Thee are so many other examples of wasted propaganda out there, of misdirected funds and energy. This one actually seems to have provoked some response and attention, which, if it makes people push a little harder for some of these things that currently exist in fantasy land, might indeed help people directly.

That's the (potential) power of satire, and why, in my opinion, it's valuable. Look at the daily Show and the Onion; for several crucial years, they were, incredibly the only mainstream media outlets directly questioning the administration.


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By M. Ron Cope

Washington Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder, announced at a press conference today that his football team will be changing its name.
“Let’s face it, the term ‘Redskins’ is offensive to many people and continuing to use it as the name of an NFL franchise is totally inappropriate,” said Snyder. “This is long overdue.”
Snyder went on to say [...]

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