A prank edition of The New York Times, published by the Yes Men, had me going a bit earlier today.
After receiving a realistic looking release and knowing that 1·2 million copies had gone out in print, it was a heck of an expensive prank from the liberal group. But it worked.
My ?rst reaction on downloading the newspaper was: ‘Wishful thinking or a total departure from reality? Have the editors seen one too many Early Editions? Whatever the case, it’s an interesting marketing ploy and bound to generate discussions about the con?rmation of media bias, optimism for the Obama administration, the accusation that the new President is a quitter, that Jayson Blair was not the only journalist in a culture of creating ?ction, that Republicans are humourless, and more.’
Until, of course, I realize one of life’s little ironies: as I have been on my high horse about believing stuff over the internet, a pretty realistic prank got me pretty good as I got phished on to the spoof site.
Here’s what the Yes Men had to say: ‘Hundreds of independent writers, artists, and activists are claiming credit for an elaborate project, 6 months in the making, in which 1.2 million copies of a “special edition” of the New York Times were distributed in cities across the U.S. by thousands of volunteers. …
‘The people behind the project are involved in a diverse range of groups, including 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.’
With hindsight, it’s all 20-20: the email even says it came from the Yes Men and on closer inspection, the typefaces aren’t even The New York Times’, though they come darned close. Close enough for a non-NYT reader to be fooled.
This edition goes on for 14 pp. including full-page advertisements.
I take my hat off to the Yes Men: an expensive exercise, great exposure for their point of view, and a fantastic (albeit short-lived) way to get blogosphere discussions going.