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31 Mar, 2017 17:02

Swedish, Norwegian newspapers to ditch April Fools’ stories amid ‘fake news’ concerns

Swedish, Norwegian newspapers to ditch April Fools’ stories amid ‘fake news’ concerns

As scheming jokesters across the globe prepare their April Fools’ pranks, Swedish and Norwegian newspapers have announced they won’t be taking part in the fun, over fears that silly stories might be spread as “fake news.”

Swedish newspapers Dalarnas Tidningar, Hallpressen, Vasterbottens-Kuriren, Smalandsposten, and Jonkopings-Posten are among the publications which say they’re going to suppress their inner trickster this year. 

“Historically, we’ve had super successful April Fools jokes. But because of debates and discussions about the media’s credibility being connected to fake news, we didn’t want to do it this year,” Ingvar Naslund, editor-in-chief at Vasterbottens-Kuriren, told TT news agency.

Smalandsposten’s editor-in-chief, Magnus Karlsson, also said he doesn’t want the newspaper’s good name to be “spread with a potentially viral and erroneous story.” 

“We work with real news. Even on April 1st,” he said.

Erik Berger, editor-in-chief at Jonkopings-Posten, said his paper will be publishing an article on April Fools’ Day as to why it isn’t participating in the international day of pranks. 

Media outlets in neighboring Norway have expressed similar sentiments, including public broadcaster NRK, Aftenposten, VG, and Dagbladet.

NRK also reported that local newspapers would follow suit.

One of those local papers is Bergens Tidende, whose editor Oyulf Hjertenes told NRK that it would be a “mistake on our part” to publish jokes on April 1, considering the current climate in which “false news is spreading.”

Meanwhile, the publishing editor of local paper Drammens Tidende said that “what is written in Drammens Tidende must be true,” AFP reported.

“Fake news” has become a household term since gaining the spotlight in the 2016 US Presidential election, with some claiming it helped propel President Donald Trump to victory. 

Trump has railed against the phenomenon for months, even refusing a question from a CNN reporter at a January press conference while shouting “You are fake news!” and telling him his organization is “terrible.” 

The following day, Trump tweeted that former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had been cut off the network for using the term “fake news” to describe it. 

Trump has also accused other outlets of fake news, including ABC, NBC, CBS, and The New York Times.

The decision to refrain from April Fools’ stories comes just two days after a poll found that six in 10 Americans believe mainstream TV and newspaper media outlets report fake news regularly or occasionally. Fifty-four percent said they believe online news outlets report false stories on purpose in order to push an agenda. 

While many fake news stories don’t go further than being shared on social media, the phenomenon turned dangerous in December, when a man with an assault rifle opened fire on a Washington DC pizzeria because of false claims that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring inside the restaurant.