April Fools: Justified or Not Justified?

smith_moiraShould well-respected journalistic outlets publish ‘April Fools’ items? For Dr. Moira Smith, writing in the scholarly journal Folklore, Volume 120, Issue 3, 2009, such media hoaxes flout journalistic ethics.

“On April Fools’ Day, journalists from every media take advantage of the occasion to pass off fabricated stories as news. While entertaining, these media hoaxes flout journalistic ethics and disappoint the public’s expectation that the media are reliable arbiters of truth.“

So, are they :

[1] Unwarranted puerile pranks which can not only undermine hard-won credibilities and divert attention from serious subjects deserving our full-time concentration, but also further confuse our already overstretched ability to distinguish truth from fiction?

Or, alternatively,

[2] Only a bit of harmless irreverent fun, which for just one (or half a) day a year might draw a fake moustache on the face of over-earnestness, drop a plastic fly in the soup of institutional gravitas, or ring the doorbell of acquired faux respectability and then run off?

Or neither, or both?

With all this in mind, may we nevertheless, rightly or wrongly, go on to recommend either : Evolutionary Basis of Stapler-Induced Human Aggression and Psychopathology

or : Tinky Winky’s got a Brand New Bag : The Year’s Work in Teletubbies Studies


Note: The cartoon by A. J. Finberg is from The King of Schnorrers (Grotesques and Fantasies), By Israel Zangwill (Heinemann, London, 1894) Chapter: The Memory Clearing House