With our rotation of staff and guest writers, each of us in the newsroom write a blog post for the paper about every week and a half. Since my last blog was published on March 19, my turn came up again on Monday.
Aside from waking up my brother with “You’re going to be late for school!” on an April 1st that happened to fall on a Saturday, I’ve never been much for April Fools jokes and am usually content hearing about clever pranks pulled by others.
Nevertheless, when I realized that I had Monday’s blog, I figured the opportunity was too good to pass up — so I got creative.
They always say the best lies are based on a foundation a possibility — so that’s where I started.
Truth: Worthington has a lake and small communities are always looking to improve tourism.
Untruth: A New Mexico company, Water Adventures, plans to capitalize on that market.
I built the fabrication from there. Studies were cited and details given: “The University of Minnesota has outlined the potential growth of tourism around the lake,” and “the two-hour tours will start at the Chautauqua Park dock and work in a counter clockwise direction around the lake,”
The company was so confident in the Worthington market that “in 2014 they will expand to Fulda First and Second Lake, Lake Ocheda, Lime Lake and Round Lake and add a supper cruise and musical entertainment in Worthington.”
Community highlight along the shore would be pointed out during the tour cruise and the only negative feedback the City of Worthington received was “Why hasn’t anyone through of this before?”
I knew I had made my fabrication look enough like the truth that it might confuse people so in closing, I wrote “As we look forward to the new lake front enterprise, I hope you all have a delightful April Fool’s Day,” thinking that should take care of it.
I’ve always through that I’m a pretty good liar and that people are just lucky I don’t put that skill to use more often. Now I’ve got a story to back up my theory.
Unlike most mornings, I didn’t have time to look at the paper before I came into work yesterday. I was shocked and then baffled when I saw an email from the editor (who was out of the office for the day) telling me my blog had been pulled before the paper was printed and “this information shouldn’t be information buried in a blog.”
“I would like this to be a full-fledged story as soon as it can be done,” he wrote.
Now I was really stumped. It’s a tricky thing to explain to your boss that what he read was in fact not the worst reporting I had ever done —un-cited quotes and everything — like he must have thought but rather completely made up. Especially when you have to do the explaining over email.
Fortunately, he was a good sport and the rest of the office got a pretty good kick out of it too.
I have to say though, I’ve learned my lesson. From now on, I think I’ll leave the April Fools jokes to others and stick with reporting the facts.