Misha Ketchell writes:

It’s April 3 and Crikey appears to have come through the April Fool’s Day journalistic minefield unscathed.

Which is more than you can say for the red-faced reporters at media trade mag B&T who were behind Friday’s scoop about how influential media buyer Harold Mitchell (“the man who said he’d never sell”) was selling his business to Sensis.

According to B&T acting editor Heather Jacobs, the media release on which the story was based came from a scammer with an email address subtly different from that used by Mitchell and Partners, a discrepancy that didn’t prevent her from posting the dodgy release in a subscriber email as the lead story.

B&T has since taken down the offending story, so we can’t rake it over for fingerprints of other chicanery, but we can still see how B&T trumpeted their fake scoop:

I’m never selling … except to Sensis
So, good old Harold Mitchell has sold out to Sensis. In a time-honoured tradition of trying to kill a news story the release was sent out at 5.07 on Friday afternoon, in the hope that everyone was at [the pub]…

And here’s B&T‘s tail-between-the-legs apology issued a couple of hours later:


B&T would like to retract a story published in our newsletter that was sent out late March 31, 2006 with an announcement involving Mitchell & Partners and Sensis.

We have since learnt that this is incorrect and the information provided was not an official release.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Mitchell & Partners declined to comment under legal advice.

There was also this interesting ad which appeared in the first edition of Saturday’s West Australian before mysteriously disappearing from later editions:

And this one lobbed in the Crikey inbox on Saturday:

Bert going to Sydney

This morning Nine Network publicist Jane O’Connor confirmed the appointment of Bert Newton to read the network’s flagship news bulletin in Sydney … “Bert has always been a star of Australian television, and the newsroom here is abuzz with the news.” Mr Newton, who has recently been filming his last episodes of the ailing Bert’s Family Feud, could not be contacted either. There will be an announcement on National Nine News at 6pm Monday night.

Meanwhile, the latest edition of Editor & Publisher has listed some of the more interesting hoax stories published over the weekend by foolhardy hacks.

But at this stage we’re assuming this implausible effort from today’s Canberra Times is not a hoax:

Sydney workers: we want you here
Kanchan Dutt

Canberra begins its all-out bid to grab Sydney workers today with the launch of an ambitious promotions campaign. The Live in Canberra campaign will target the skilled workforce resident in south and south-west Sydney and try to lure them to the ACT with promises of jobs, education and traffic-free roads.