Did the Huffington Post Steal Their April Fool’s Day Joke? Plus More Media Gags!


Today, almost every media operation in the world has already attempted or will soon attempt to make a joke at the expense of their readers, viewers, visitors, or customers. Most will actually fool very few, while even less will be funny. We’ve already noted some of Google’s gags for the day, which trend toward the nerdy side, but since no one can decide whether Google is a media company or not, they don’t make today’s media column, Press Clips: April Fool’s Edition. But Arianna Huffington figures prominently!

April Fool’s Media Joke: We’ve chronicled the battle between New York Times executive editor Bill Keller and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, as they’ve fought over What Is Real Journalism and who can practice it. She stole some of his staff, probably not to make a point, but to make her journalism better, and Keller just made a few bad jokes, so she’s winning.

For April Fool’s Day, she targeted Keller and the Times again, this time on the subject of the newspaper’s new paywall:

Today marks a significant transition for The Huffington Post Media Group, as we introduce digital subscriptions for employees of The New York Times. It’s an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Huffington Post, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world — and especially to our readers inside The New York Times.

It’s not exceptionally clever, but it gets the point across: “Slideshows and videos of adorable kittens (our signature offering) will be available for free only to one very senior New York Times employee.”

Except! Not only did the blog Monkey Cage make the same joke two weeks ago — “Monkey Cage to Begin Charging NY Times Employees for Access,” as pointed out on Twitter — but even the bullet-pointed formatting of the joke is the same, complete with wild and crazy caveats. For instance:

From Monkey Cage: “Times employees who wish to leave comments on posts will be permitted to do so without charge, but only if the comments are essentially positive and invoke the words ‘insightful’ or ‘counter-intuitive.'”

From Arianna: “If you come in through Digg, you’ll be able to read for free all stories that refer to TV’s Erik Estrada.”

We’re not really saying she stole it, we’re just saying her ideas are played out.

Not a Joke: This interview with Huffington in… the New York Times Magazine! The questions are combative and her answers are terse; it reads like a joke.

April Fool’s Media Joke: The Daily Mail photoshopped Kate Middleton shopping for baby clothes, but also smoking cigarettes. That’s so not royal.

Not a Joke: Another column by Bill Keller! And it’s about WikiLeaks again. Same quote: “Well, phew!” (That’s our favorite part.)

April Fool’s Media Joke: Gawker Media’s car blog Jalopnik announced that they were sold to Arianna and AOL. The name, they claimed, has been changed to Autoblognik and editor-in-chief Ray Wert “quit” in protest. To their credit, they got this one in early and as a result, seemingly fooled a few of their own commenters.

Not a Joke: The New York Times got fooled by an April Fool’s Day story, just like last year. This one’s really good.

But let’s all agree not to do this again in 2012, okay? We’ve had enough.

[ / @joecoscarelli]

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 1, 2011


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