News satire

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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a news satire program

News satire, also called fake news, is a type of parody presented in a format typical of mainstream journalism, and called a satire because of its content. News satire has been around almost as long as journalism itself, but it is particularly popular on the web, where it is relatively easy to mimic a credible news source and stories may achieve wide distribution from nearly any site. News satire relies heavily on irony and deadpan humor.

In history[edit]

Richard A. Locke successfully increased sales of The Sun newspaper in 1835 by publishing a series of six articles, now known as the Great Moon Hoax, under the name of contemporary astronomer Sir John Herschel.[1]

Author Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was employed as a newspaper reporter before becoming famous as a novelist and in this position he published many hoax articles. He left two separate journalism positions, Nevada (1864) fleeing a challenge to duel[2] and San Francisco fleeing outraged police officials, because his satire and fiction were often taken for the truthful accounts they were presented as. Of this experience he said, "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." Ironically, the accuracy of many newspaper and autobiographical accounts used to follow the early life of Samuel Clemens are in doubt.[3]

Newspapers still print occasional news satire features, in particular on April Fools' Day. This news is specifically identified somewhere in the paper or in the next day as a joke.

In 1934, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released a series of ten one-reel theatrical shorts called Goofy Movies, which included "Wotaphony Newsreel," a newsreel parody that paired actual footage with a mocking, deadpan narration.

Also in 1934, halfway through a Kraft Music Hall radio show, Dean Taylor ("Others collect the news, Dean makes it!") narrated a fake newsreel which began with a report on the New York Giants and Philadelphia Phillies being cancelled due to bad weather, and baseball season being rescheduled to when farmers need rain.

On television[edit]

News satire has been prevalent on television since the 1960s, when it enjoyed a renaissance in the UK with the Satire Boom, led by such luminaries as Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, David Frost, Eleanor Bron and Dudley Moore and the television program That Was The Week That Was.

In the United States, the NBC network adapted this program and also produced its own content, from the "news" segment of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, to the still-running Saturday Night Live mock newscast segment "Weekend Update". Cable television got into the cable news act with Home Box Office's Not Necessarily the News in the mid-1980s.

Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report are currently very popular in the United States. The 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey found that Daily Show viewers were better informed than those who relied solely on conventional network news,[4] and Steven Young of Los Angeles Daily News compares the trust and influence Stewart enjoys today to that of CBS anchor Walter Cronkite in the 1970s.[5] However, a study published in the Journal of Communication suggests that entertainment news shows such as The Daily Show or The Colbert Report may not be as influential in teaching voters about political issues and candidates as was previously thought. Researchers from Ohio State University have found reasons to discount how effective these shows are in informing the general public. People watching television news learned more about a candidate's position on issues and about political procedures compared to those watching the fake news shows, while fake news shows primarily taught viewers about a candidate’s personal background.[6]

Fox News launched a news satire program in February 2007 with the title of The 1/2 Hour News Hour. Its creator describes it as "The Daily Show for conservatives", but it was cancelled within a few months. Fox News has since launched the more successful Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld.

In Britain, several news satires have been created, most famously the works of Chris Morris. Show such as the radio series On the Hour and its television version The Day Today parodied news programs very accurately, so they were almost believable and could have been confused with actual news programs, if it was not for the fake stories reported. Morris went on to continue this and several other themes in Brass Eye, one of the most controversial series on British television, especially after one episode broadcast mocked the way the news covered stories about pedophilia.

Currently, British news satire is similar to shows such as The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. The Late Edition with Marcus Brigstocke, on digital station BBC Four, is heavily influenced by The Daily Show. News Knight with Sir Trevor McDonald parodied news differently, by using an actual newsreader as the host. Other news satires include Broken News, which featured several sketches of different news channels blending into each other.

In Canada, This Hour Has 22 Minutes is an ensemble news satire show with four anchors on CBC. The Rick Mercer Report is a spinoff of 22 Minutes with former anchor Rick Mercer, and is also shown on CBC. CBC Radio features This Is That, a satirical public affairs program. The 1960s series This Hour Has Seven Days, although primarily a real newsmagazine, included some satirical features in its format, such as political humour songs by actress and singer Dinah Christie. The Lapine, a Canadian website satirizing local and national politics was founded in 2011 and has been gaining increasing press coverage from media outlets such as CTV.[7][8]

In Germany, heute-show (ZDF), and formerly Wochenshow (on SAT.1) and Freitag Nacht News (on RTL) are popular news satires on TV.

The Egyptian show El Bernameg, hosted by Bassem Youssef (on Capital Broadcast Center 2011-13 and MBC MASR from 2014 on), is modeled on The Daily Show. Launched in the wake of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, it has been quite popular, but also a source of tremendous controversy, as Youssef has repeatedly been under investigation by the authorities for his willingness to poke fun at powerful people.


News satire has been posted on the web almost since its inception, with The Onion foremost among recognized news satire site due to its enduring and profitable business model.[9] The content of the website, which started in 1996, is syndicated through mainstream media sites such as CNN and CNET. Today there are hundreds of news satire sites online. Sites such as Hollywood Leek specialize in satirical articles about celebrities and Hollywood entertainment news.[10] Sometimes fake news reporters influence real world politics, like Citizen Kate whose 90 episodes covered the 2008 presidential campaign trail, she commissioned a butter bust of Obama presented to him by the Butter Cow Lady of Iowa, making international headlines.[11] El Koshary Today is an Egyptian website that carries fake international news stories.[12] Other satire sites attempt to emulate a genuine news source of some sort; however, these sites now take a variety of forms.[13]

Because interesting stories are often emailed and can quickly become separated from their point of origin, it is not uncommon for news satire stories to be picked up as real by the media; as had happened with a Faking News story about a lawsuit against Axe by an Indian man after having failed to attract a girl.[15] Additionally, a parody post on Al Sharpton's parody News Groper blog was quoted as if real by MSNBC.[16] Another satire publication, The Giant Napkin, published an article about a man literally fighting his house fire with more fire, a story taken seriously by several social networking sites. The fact that Google News accepts news satire sources helps contribute to this phenomenon; while Google News does mark such stories with a "satire" tag, not all readers notice the tag; moreover, sometimes satirical sources may not carry the tag.[17] At least one site,, relies on user-generated content in a Web 2.0 manner.

Some websites like Literally Unbelievable post the genuine and shocked reactions of individuals who believe the satirical articles are real. The reactions are taken from social media websites, such as Facebook, in which users can directly comment on links to the article's source.

Multi-author Indian website News That Matters Not, launched in November 2009,[18] won a prestigious Manthan South Asia Award for socially responsible e-content (Digital Inclusion for Development), organized by Digital Empowerment Foundation.[19] In India, several community-based news satire websites have crept up in recent times. Their popularity on Facebook defines that they are popular amongst the masses. Very new websites such as The Scoop Times, and The UnReal Times also claim to be run by students, and were covered in The Times of India in July 2011.[20]

Several sites community of selected news satire sites which runs its own satire news feed on HumorFeed. HumorFeed is notable for its relatively high standards of admission and active community involvement. At present, over 60 sites are contributing members, at least eight of which have published books and two of which publish regular hard copy periodicals. Several HumorFeed members also run Check Please!, an online journal devoted to the serious examination of online satire, ranging from its role in relation to actual journalism to practical considerations of producing an online satire site.

In July 2009, a satire piece about Kanye West published on the website ScrapeTV was picked up by numerous media outlets and reported as factual,[21][22][23] despite disclaimers on the site.[24]

Satirical Twitter accounts of news sources are popular, and they are often mistaken as legitimate sources. Online publications have made quizzes challenging users to distinguish between the tweets of the real Vice[25] and the tweets of their parodies. The @Salondotcom parody account confused so many Twitter users that the real reported them for impersonation.[26]

In the Middle East, The Pan-Arabia Enquirer is the most widely read satirical news website. It gained notoriety in 2013 when an article about Emirates launching shisha lounges on its fleet of A380s was picked up as fact by news websites around the world.[27]

In Turkey, Zaytung has become a source of mass reading since the socio-political Gezi Park 2013 protests in Turkey.

In the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago-based website, Wired868, has two wildly popular satirical columnists under the pseudonyms Mr Live Wire and Filbert Street, who comment satirically on relevant political and news stories such as the fall from power of ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner,[28][29] media issues,[30] general news[31] and the challenges faced by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her People's Partnership coalition Government.[32][33][34]

In Australia satirical news is limited to two mainstream publishers, The Shovel[35] and the Burdekin Herald.[36] The Shovel mainly satirizes the Australian political and social culture and the Burdekin Herald satirizes the political right and also acts as a parody of Queensland. In January 2014 the Burdekin Herald shot to fame after it published an article claiming that the conservative Queensland government was going to introduce 22 000 poisonous snakes into homes to rid the state of cane toads.[37]

The first satire news website to employ personalization of the articles is[38] Using Machine Learning technology the website allows the user to put anyone's name, including their own, into the fake news articles. The output resembles an Onion cover devoted exclusively to the provided subject. This gave the satirical news movement a new momentum, allowing people to prank their loved ones, friends, bosses, etc. excludes itself from the search engines' indexing to prevent altering the online presence of the person in the articles. However, the articles are usually shared through social networks, where they make a big splash.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Great Moon Hoax of 1835". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  2. ^ "Samuel Clemens". 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  3. ^ Rocha, Guy; Myers, Dennis. "Myth # 2 - Mark Twain Flees Nevada" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-16. 
  4. ^ "National Annenburg Election Survey" (PDF). Annenberg Public Policy Center. 2004-09-21. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  5. ^ Young, Steve (2004-09-20). "The 1974 Cronkite". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  6. ^ 'Fake' News Shows Less Important in Learning about Politics Newswise, Retrieved on September 8, 2008.
  7. ^ "The Lapine". The Lapine. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  8. ^ "Fake dog ban article makes rounds on Twitter, Facebook". CTV. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  9. ^ Geoff Keighley Business 2.0. " - The Onion: Funny site is no joke - Aug. 29, 2003". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  10. ^ Leek, Hollywood. "Disclaimer". Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Doty, Cate (December 27, 2007). "Obama in Butter". NY Times. Retrieved 18 April 2012. 
  12. ^ "And Now For The Lighter Side Of Egypt's Revolution". NPR. September 5, 2012. Retrieved September 5, 2012. 
  13. ^ "UK | Magazine | Clicking with comedy". BBC News. 2006-10-04. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  14. ^ An interview with The Onion, David Shankbone, Wikinews, November 25, 2007.
  15. ^ r3vz says:. "Unable to attract even a single girl, frustrated man sues Axe". Faking News. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  16. ^ "Msnbc.Com'S Fumble". 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  17. ^ "Blogs, satire, and press release sites". Google News Help. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  18. ^ "About". News That Matters Not. 2011-05-23. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  19. ^ "India's best e-Content Practices". The manthan Award. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  20. ^ "Times of India Publications". 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2012-02-24. (subscription required)
  21. ^ "West debunks new 'King of Pop' rumors". MSNBC. 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  22. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (2009-07-31). "NY Times ArtsBeat". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  23. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2009-07-31). "Kanye West Angrily Blogs About "Corny" "King of Pop" Misquote". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  24. ^ "Kanye West declares himself King of Pop". 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  25. ^ "Quiz: Real Vice headline or Vice is Hip parody?". New York News & Politics. 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  26. ^ Schonfeld, Zach (2014-07-18). "#FreeSalonDotCom: The Right Wing Fight to Restore a Suspended Parody Twitter". Newsweek. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  27. ^ "The Pan-Arabia Enquirer: home of Middle Eastern political satire". The Guardian, 2013-08-12.
  28. ^ "Controversial ex-FIFA VP concedes his last political post". 2013-05-03. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  29. ^ "Yes Prime Minister: Kamla puts foot down on Warner issue". 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-04-02. 
  30. ^ "Tabanca tabloid: Guardian continues quixotic charge against Ex-press". 2013-11-25. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  31. ^ "Miracle on Stone Street: TV host Alleyne executes amazing BJ... Allegedly". 2013-11-08. Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  32. ^ "Prime Minister's gone wild... with elation at election results". 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  33. ^ "Political surprise on a yellow brick road". 2012-09-27. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  34. ^ "Behind the iron throne: The Cabal descends into chaos". 2013-08-18. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  35. ^ "The Shovel - Australia's satire news website". The Shovel. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  36. ^ "The Burdekin Herald Official Website". The Burdekin Herald. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  37. ^ Phillips, Jack (2014-01-24). "'Government to introduce 22 000 Black Mambas to help eradicate cane toads' Article is Satire". The Epoch Times. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  38. ^ "YoursWeekly - the first personalized satire news website". YoursWeekly. Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  39. ^ "The Pan-Arabia Enquirer Official Website". The Pan-Arabia Enquirer. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  40. ^ Dapaan Official Site. Accessed 2014-08-16.
  41. ^ "Paralel News Official Site". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  42. ^ "Rokokoposten siden 1732". Retrieved 2014-12-19.