In the spirit of light-hearted playfulness of April Fools Day, the Los Angeles Times tried to pull one over on their (dwindling) readership. But the cleverest among us realized their ruse, and instead of feeling perplexed and outraged we enjoyed a hearty chuckle. All in good fun!
The April 1, 2014 edition’s lead editorial, on page A10, was headlined “Climate change here and now.” The sub-head said: “Crop yields are down, deaths from heat are up. A U.N. panel’s report should be a call to action.” The editorial encapsulated the report’s most alarming warnings – impending disruption of the world’s food supply; dying oceans; droughts – and concluded that, in a rational world, the report would be more than enough to propel world leaders into action.
The final sentence: “We [should] discuss how quickly we can reduce [climate change’s] severity by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and which steps we should take first to reduce the effects that we are already too late to stop.”
This all sounded serious and sincere. Then again, it was April 1st!
We’re no April Fools. When we turned to page B7 – business stories – we saw the headline. Gotcha! Some sly copy editor had worked in a plausible prank story to twin with the day’s allegedly “real” editorial! The headline said: “Exxon says demand to persist for oil, gas.”
The story, which was hilarious, reported that Exxon Mobil Corp. was telling its shareholders that fossil fuels will continue to meet a vast portion of the world’s energy needs in coming decades. The “global appetite for oil and gas will stay high,” it said, “despite efforts around the globe to control pollution and encourage renewable energy.”
Shareholders, on three: “Hooray!”
Kudos to the Times for having the comedy chops to pull this one off. Just one question.
There was another story next to the “Exxon Will Flourish” story on B7. “Caterpillar avoids taxes, report says” was the headline. “The machinery giant shifted profits to Swiss subsidiary, a Senate panel finds,” read the sub-head.
Great American companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard have made this totally legal ploy a part of their accounting practices, so when we read about another Great American company enriching its shareholders at the expense of everyone else, we weren’t quite sure: Was this news in the spirit of the April Fools celebration, or do we just not get the joke?