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November 12, 2008

Spoof New York Times: Somebody Worked Hard On This

Fakenytimes This morning, newspaper hawkers outside our subway stations handed many of us free copies of The New York Times.


The 14-page paper we were handed is a painstaking spoof that looks pretty close to the real thing. There's also a companion Web site. It might fool you until you read the top headline: IRAQ WAR ENDS.

It's an elaborate and successful stunt, but who went to all the trouble and expense, and why? The parody definitely has the fingerprints of the social justice movement, and Gawker thinks it came from the protest group The Yes Men.

(Update: The real Times reports that The Yes Men are taking credit for the fake Times and claiming they printed - gasp! - 1.2 million copies of it!)

Stories in the paper are not exactly funny, not exactly cruel. They're wishful headlines about how great everything would be if our country adopted liberal policies. ("All the news we hope to print.")

If you think the real Times leans to the left, wait until you read the fake one. Sample headlines: All Public Universities To Be Free, Maximum Wage Law Succeeds, Public Relations Industry Forecasts a Series of Massive Layoffs, Bush Resumes Golf Game. Fake ads make fun of corporations like Exxon and McDonald's.

Photos? There are a few, and they seem to be legitimately obtained. Some are handouts from the military or companies, some are pictures of social justice protests that may have been shot by the same people who created the newspaper.

PDN creative director Darren Ching was in awe this morning at the spoof paper's attention to design details, though a close inspection shows that the prankersters didn't have access to the Times's propriatery fonts.

Okay, fun's over, on with the workday.


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This got me good. I had been on my high horse about media getting suckered in by press releases (yes, there was one that was sent to media, accompanying this stunt) and here I was, getting suckered in by a press release. I went to the site, downloaded the PDF. It looked very convincing and fooled me.

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