By now, I’m sure you’re aware of the little prank TOC pulled on Chicago last week. Some crab-asses protested by saying “It’s not April 1st!” But since this issue fell on April 1, we had little choice but to go with the joke a little early, and I think it worked better that way as it caught so many people off-guard and really helped to “sell” the joke. We even extended it to the blog that day, with a whole series of fake posts from Trump as well as some music, film and comedy “news.”
Here’s the “problem” with all this though: the internet knows no calendar. This stuff is going to stay up in perpetuity without the benefit of context. I’m enormously pleased that a few other lazy sites picked up our blog “scoops” and reported them as actual news (seriously, does “Shane ‘Handsy’ Butterscotch” sound like a real name to anybody?) and that on Wednesday we gave the home page a Trump-centric makeover. So I wouldn’t change how we rolled things out online. But there’s a decent argument to be made for making sure that six months from now, people know we didn’t really give Sixteen an 11-star review, James Lipton didn’t actually review Wicked for us and we acted like jerks during David Schwimmer’s interview for a reason.
In the past year, I’ve worked really hard – as has the rest of the staff – to establish TOC‘s bona fides online. We still have a ways to go, but we’re now seen as a trusted source for news just like other sites. And when sites like ours play jokes on April 1, we’ve got cover for our editorial integrity. But if we report that Vampire Weekend is starting a preppie clothing line on March 26 does that end up hurting us in the long run? I’m inclined to say no, especially when we led the day on the blog with stuff like this. But again: we had the benefit of context, and Google searches strip all that out.
So today, instead of pulling another elaborate joke on the TOC blog, we’re going to be explaining the one we pulled last week, and tagging our satirical posts and articles as such. It might seem like babying our readers in a way, but on the Internet, some jokes are only funny the first time you tell them.