Does the Australian media’s apparent failure to let April Fool’s Day pass without a decent spoof story reflect its increasing timidity on so many other issues?
Fortunately the day did not pass elsewhere without appropriate acknowledgment:

The Guardianran a story on Tony Blair offering Prince Charles the role of “countryside tsar” in his third-term Labour government, The Independent’s “Kitchen cabinet” story reported a Tory boost as Jamie Oliver declares he’ll stand for parliament, the Evening Standard reported that pigeons in Trafalgar Square were being fitted with knitted cardigans to lower their sperm counts, and a Daily Mirror article claimed that a flock of sheep dyed in England’s colours would be installed at the new Wembley Stadium to spread nonallergenic fertilizer on the soccer field.

The New York Timesexamined the April Fool phenomenon, observing that “the fake April 1 article is a fine British newspaper tradition, befitting a country where the news media revel in not taking themselves too seriously”.

In the Australian media, April Fools were relatively few and far between. They included:

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And Whirlpool had a story on its website headlined – Alston to take top Telstra job – until confusion and/or anger prompted them to add an “April Fool” caveat at the top.

But it’s not always easy to spot an April Fool’s joke, as evidenced by a story in Friday’s Herald Sunon the annual underwear allowance for dancers at the Australian Ballet being increased to include more G-strings, jockstraps and ribbons to tie their pointe shoes. The MEAA’s state secretary Louise Connor informs Crikey that the story was “not a joke”.

Peter Fray

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