Luther College Chips

Satire, fake news, and Chips’ “April Foolsies”

Emily Crowe, Editor-in-Chief

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It is that time of the semester: April Fool’s Day. We at Chips use this silly holiday as an excuse to get a little creative and write satirical articles.

If you flip your Chips you will find four pages of joke articles, Photoshopped photos, and self-deprecating bylines. There is also a note from us as a staff that points out that the stories are all in good fun and are not meant to be taken seriously.

However, I think this topic is worth more than a short comment embedded in the April Fools articles, especially now, when newspapers are accused of printing fake news. There is a difference between fake news stories — like the ones with made up statistics on top of stock photos that are shared mindlessly on Facebook — and satire, like the clever and cutting stories “The Onion” publishes.

I am not implying that our stories are all as clever as the stories published in “The Onion,” nor am I saying that any of it is real — it’s not. We make it all up, every word. But, it is not fake news. It is not made-up facts parading as real. We are very upfront with the fact that these stories are meant to poke fun at some Luther-isms and figures on campus. These stories are meant to be a way for the Chips staffers to get creative, not a way for us to trick our readers.

Though sometimes readers confuse the stories we print with real news, it is because they read only one story, or simply hear about the story and get upset; they miss the context.

I don’t mean to pound this idea into the ground, or to repeat it to the point that it feels condescending. I merely mean to emphasize the important difference, as it is a problem we as news and media consumers face daily.

Trump has banned reporters from his meetings because he claims that they are spewing false news instead of his own “alternative facts.” These problems require readers to dig a little deeper: question the source and writing, question the intent of the story, question the facts presented and how they may be shifted to reinforce the writer’s point.

I am just as guilty of this as everyone — I share things on Facebook without checking the facts or even, sometimes, the sources. As a journalist, albeit a student journalist, I am very aware of the repercussions of our stories. I have made and will certainly make more mistakes, but I try to correct them and learn from them. As readers, it is your responsibility to hold me to this standard and inform us when we print something that is wrong.

But please, don’t send me a letter about the April Fools stories. I promise, I know the facts aren’t true.

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