The Woodlands, March 31 – One of the coolest events in the history of journalism occurred on October 16, 1978. The New York Times, the leading daily newspaper of New York at the time, suffered an 88 day printer strike along with several other local newspapers when New York’s Printers Pressmen Local No. 2 union walked off their jobs.
New Yorkers were desperate for news and sorely missed The New York Times. Therefore, the editorial staff of the venerable old newspaper decided to take matters into their own hands and attempt to operate the printing presses themselves on one occasion. The editors wrote eight pages of articles and published Not The New York Times with some great articles written by the editors as well as guest writers including celebrities Carl Bernstein and Nora Ephron.
The lead story was “Pope Dies Yet Again; Reign Is Briefest Ever” about a Pope with the taken name of John Paul John Paul I, the Cardinal of Liverpool, England, whose entire papacy only lasted 18 minutes. Of course, the article was a spoof of the real Pope John Paul I whose papacy had lasted 38 days. Pope John Paul I’s reign as Pope was so brief that The New York Times never ran an article about his election to the papacy, although it did publish a brief memorial article to him in November, 1978.
The other “above-the-fold” article in the first official newspaper with “fake news” was “Marathon Runners Blamed By City for Bridge Destruction.” The article explained that City Building officials blamed the collapse of the Queensboro Bridge to a “simple excess of weight.” (The Golden Hammer‘s Publisher did run across the Queensboro Bridge during the NYC Marathon in 2014.)
The Golden Hammer, of course, is Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper. Its Publisher just happened to be visiting possible colleges on October 16, 1978, and was in New York City the day the “faux newspaper” hit the stands. He ended up going to a college a bit south of New York City.
If you ever want a really good laugh, including where the newspaper’s editors spoofed themselves, you should read Not The New York Times.
Kinda makes ya think about the possibilities…