I’ve done five faux (fake) news articles here on Locally Grown since last October, three of them (and part of a 4th) satirical. How can one tell a fake piece?
I write them in the style of a traditional news story. All other blog posts here are written in the first-person, and in a conversational style common to most blogs.
Why not be more obvious about it? The Wikipedia definition of satire says, in part, that “… the purpose of satire is not primarily humour but criticism of an event, an individual or a group in a clever manner.”
So in my satirical pieces, I’m trying to get people to think, to wonder if it’s really true, to re-read and look deeper. I’m trying to be clever (quite possibly not always successfully) to help get my point across. Being too obvious undermines that.
In my most recent post about cigarettes, it’s nearly all false. The Hospital does not plan nor has it ever considered selling cigarettes at the gift shop. The people quoted don’t exist: Ken Stapek, Gina Lundblad, Brett Schlichting, Scott Crow, Jennifer Drenckhahn, Lance Hvistendahl, Diane Berthelsen. No, they’re not hiring a tobacco attorney. No, the school board will not be considering the issue at an upcoming meeting. Yes, the municipal liquor store does sell cigarettes.
To give the piece more of an air of credibility, I did match the real first names of some people with the real last names of other people associated with organizations mentioned. My thinking was that that would prevent any confusion arising from web searches on real first and last names. My wife pointed out to me that many (most?) citizens who aren’t as involved as I am in local public affairs won’t get that and will just assume that they’re real people. So that’s something I won’t do again, unless I get someone’s permission to use a fake quote with their name attached like Colleen Hollinger-Petters did here.
In my defense, I think the assertions made by the fake people in the fake hospital piece are outrageous to the point of absurdity, and that I’ve not done any damage to any person’s or organization’s reputation. Here’s what I essentially had them say:
Funds are needed for hospital prevention programs so let’s make money off addicted smokers.
Cancer-related illnesses are declining and that hurts our hospital revenue so we really do need more smokers out there, so that there’s more sick people, so that we stay in business, so that we provide good jobs.
High schoolers smoke and the school district is short on cash so let’s sell tobacco to students who are 18 and use the money for drug prevention.
Over-the-top, I’d say. But to clear up any confusion on past FN news pieces, I’ve gone back and edited the headlines with the prefix: Fake News.
I’m trying to have fun with Locally Grown, while at same time, have it be a force for betterment in our community. I’m also willing to learn, to consider critical feedback, and to respond to it with civility. Comments appreciated, either attached here (preferred) or via our Contact Us form.