Weekly World News
The Weekly World News was a largely fictional news tabloid published in the United States from 1979 to 2007, renowned for its outlandish cover stories often based on supernatural or paranormal themes and an approach to news that verged on the satirical. Its characteristic black-and-white covers have become pop-culture images widely used in the arts. It continues to exist as a website. 
- 1 History
- 2 General approach to stories
- 3 Columns and features
- 4 Recurring subjects
- 4.1 Bat Boy
- 4.2 A Scientist
- 4.3 Page 5 Honey
- 4.4 "ALIVE!", starring (often) Elvis Presley
- 4.5 The World's Fattest...
- 4.6 Upcoming economic depressions
- 4.7 Religion and Biblical relics
- 4.8 Terrorism
- 4.9 Saddam Hussein's heartbreak
- 4.10 Saddam's Nuclear Submarine
- 4.11 Presidency
- 4.12 Aliens
- 4.13 Cryptids
- 4.14 Merfolk
- 5 Other stories
- 6 Television
- 7 Website
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The WWN was launched in 1979 by publisher Generoso Pope, Jr. as a means to continue using the black and white press that the higher-profile tabloid The National Enquirer had been printed on when the sister publication switched to color printing. Like many supermarket weeklies in the U.S., the Weekly World News was published in Lantana, Florida, until it moved to Boca Raton in the late 1990s. It was unique as a tabloid because it was printed entirely in black and white.
Its longtime editor, Eddie Clontz, a 10th-grade dropout from North Carolina and former copy editor at small newspapers, joined the paper in 1981. In the 1980s, the circulation of WWN peaked at 1.2 million per issue.
In 1999, the Weekly World News was declared the "Official Newspaper of the Windows 2000 Team" at Microsoft, and its Senior Vice President, Brian Valentine, would read excerpts from it at what was called Windows Information Meetings, or WIMs, while attempting to entertain and encourage the developers, testers, program managers, and writers involved.
In 1999, David Pecker bought American Media Inc., which owned the Weekly World News. Within the next two years, many of WWN's longtime writers and editors, including Clontz, Sal Ivone, Derek Clontz, Susan Jimison, Joe Berger, Bob Lind, Dick Kulpa, and Leskie Pinson, were gone. Clontz left the paper in 2001, having been there 20 years, and died in 2004.
WWN ceased its print publication in 2007. It is currently being published as an insert within Sun magazine, with new material being printed alongside articles and columns from older issues. It maintains a website that is updated daily.
In January 2011, the Weekly World News made available to fans an online paid subscription. This online edition is emailed to subscribers biweekly. The format of the online edition is classic Weekly World News right down to the old Weekly World News logo used from 1979 to 2001. The stories are classic Weekly World News; for example, the first issue's headline screamed "Werewolf Sues Airline Over Flight Delay."
General approach to stories
The WWN traditionally claimed that it always printed the truth (typical slogan: "Nothing but the truth: The Weekly World News!"). Many stories, however, appeared to have comedic intent. Confirming this, in Batboy Lives! a semi-serious introduction admitted that while Reader A reads the tabloid for real news, Reader B will read it for laughs. While the tabloid's main rival, Sun, carried a fine print disclaimer, the WWN never publicly questioned the accuracy of its own stories until 2004, when the paper began stating that "the reader should suspend disbelief for the sake of enjoyment." In recent years, Sun moved more toward articles on health and miracle cures, mostly leaving WWN alone in its unique niche of basing a weekly publication almost entirely on 'news' that the traditional media dared not report, such as sightings of Elvis Presley and the Loch Ness monster. Today, Sun publishes a small WWN insert as "bonus pages" within its weekly magazine.
On occasion, it ran strange-but-true stories, such as "DEVOUT CHRISTIAN ATTACKED - AND HE'S THE ONE FINED!" referring to conservative English street preacher Harry Hammond being fined after he was threatened by "homosexual liberals." Other verifiable stories included, but were not limited to, those of a giant mutant hog monster attacking Georgia, and the arrest of a Tallahassee, Florida, man whose pants were on fire at the time. It reported on the discovery of an infant dragon preserved in formaldehyde proving the existence of dragons, although this was later proven to be a hoax. It also quoted Vatican exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth on Pope John Paul II's battles with Satan, and ran a story on the copyright dispute between O, The Oprah Magazine and a German erotic periodical also named "O."
However, these stories were the exceptions. When most of the supermarket tabloids were acquired by Fleet Street publishers, they switched to celebrity gossip, but the Weekly World News remained devoted to weirdness. In the introduction to Batboy Lives! former managing editor Sal Ivone said, "If someone calls me up and says their toaster is talking to them, I don't refer them to professional help, I say, 'Put the toaster on the phone.'" Derrik Lang, a former stringer for the paper, said, "That fat guy with the sunburned belly and that kid abused by his own shadow were living, breathing people with wilder-than-wild stories to tell—in my head. I can't attest to the entire publication, but everything in my stories was fake—you know, depending on how you define fake."
WWN was a journalistic leader in following the progress of Bat Boy, the half-bat half-boy superhero, and P'lod, an extraterrestrial who became involved in Earth politics and had an affair with Hillary Clinton. Other important issues regularly reported on included the oncoming great depression/apocalypse and newly found lost prophecies.
WWN was also in the forefront of informing the public about alien abductions, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and time travel. WWN once carried a story about inhabitants of the planet Mercury who had proposed to establish a colony in San Francisco; presumably they sought a more temperate climate where lead was generally a solid. (In one of the latest, Iraq was revealed to possess a "time tunnel" capable of facilitating time travel.)
Occasionally, stories published in the Weekly World News sent shock waves through the legal and law enforcement communities. For example, in early 1989 WWN published startling photographs on its front page of executed serial killer Ted Bundy on the autopsy table. Electrode burns on Bundy's shaved head with his fixed and dilated pupils staring into space could clearly be seen in the photographs. Angry and surprised officials in Florida vowed to catch the person responsible. Eventually, a low-level employee of the Alachua County, Florida, Medical Examiner's office was arrested and charged with taking and selling the photographs.
In January 2013, Weekly World News announced it would go behind a paywall. It opted to use MediaPass, an LA company specializing in paywall solutions, to help monetize the clicks, with an initial limit set at three free article views and select content that will remain unmetered.
Columns and features
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2010)|
Regular columns included Ed Anger (opinion), Hi Dolly (relationship advice), first Dear Babs and later Dear Dotti (outspoken advice columnists), Horse Sense (medical advice), Monkey Business (financial and business-related advice and information) and Madame Malisa (psychic).
Beginning on May 9, 2005, the Weekly World News went "All New" along with other tabloid papers such as the National Enquirer, which had become "Bigger•Bolder•Better." In the new Weekly World News, Serena and Sonya Sabak's psychic column was replaced by the horoscopes of Madame Malisa, and Dotti Primrose's "Dear Dotti" was supplanted by an advice column called "Hi Dolly" written by a middle-aged blonde woman reared somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The new WWN included a weekly "Weird Picture Search" by Mad cartoonist Sergio Aragones. Other features included Trivia, Test Yourself, Jokes, and "Miss Adventure", "The Gayest American Hero", who has penetrated the mob, gone to Hollywood, and fought DRAG-U-LA traveling from the depths of the Earth's center to outer space.
Two pages of comic strips became a popular feature, many spun off from feature stories. "SpyCat", created by Dick Siegel, was drawn by Ernie Colón. SpyCat spoke nine different languages ranging from Persian to "dog" and was armed with "Adamwestium" claws and deadly cat-of-nine-tails. He wrote free-form poetry when not waging war on America's enemies—at home and abroad. "Matthew Daemon", also created by Dick Siegel, was written and illustrated by Mike Collins and was a spinoff from the "SOS Matthew Daemon (Seeker of Obscure Supernaturals)" feature. Daemon's lair was located beneath Grant's Tomb. Daemon specialized in B-List Monster hunting. "Alien Baby" by Craig Boldman chronicles the adventures of Moogera the deadbeat alien dad, alien baby Ethan, and Stacy, his Earth-born mother. "Bat Boy" is written and drawn by Danielle Corsetto and is a fictional creature that made several appearances in the tabloid.
Bat Boy was first featured in a 1992 issue after being found in a cave in West Virginia (Lost World Caverns). He has since led police on a high-speed chase, fought in the war on terror, led the troops to capture Saddam Hussein, bitten Santa Claus, and traveled into outer space. In 2000, he gave his endorsement to Al Gore. It was foretold that Bat Boy would become president in 2028. The story of Bat Boy was the basis for an acclaimed off-Broadway musical, Bat Boy: The Musical, though the play ended tragically and ignores the continuity of the original stories. In addition to articles, Bat Boy has been featured in a comic strip since 2004, though it's said that only the articles are the "true" story of Bat Boy. The strip was originally written and drawn by Peter Bagge and then by Danielle Corsetto.
"A Scientist" is typically shown and quoted. He was known as "A Scientist" to distinguish him from A Baffled Scientist. His findings are as close as WWN gets to having a reliable source.
Page 5 Honey
Each week a different model was featured on page 5 and on the back page. She was usually wearing a bikini and a description of her was printed. This article has been absent from WWN since the Halloween issue of 2006.
"ALIVE!", starring (often) Elvis Presley
One of the other many recurring subjects was the occasional "ALIVE!" cover story. Most often the story pertained to some sort of creature such as a mummy, prehistoric creature, or, occasionally, a human who had been frozen in a block of ice (ex. Santa Claus.)
Another subject often tackled by WWN is the reemergence of many prominent figures believed by most to be deceased, including Hank Williams, Marilyn Monroe, John F. Kennedy, Adolf Hitler, and Michael Jackson. Survivors of the Titanic and Hindenburg were also occasionally featured. Among the most frequently printed reports were those asserting that "Elvis is alive."
The WWN frequently reported Elvis sightings with a series of articles claiming that Elvis Presley had faked his death and had recently emerged from years of seclusion to prepare for a comeback. Obviously altered photos purported to show a gray-haired, balding Elvis sneaking into a movie theater and coming out of a Burger King restaurant. When the U.S. Postal Service conducted a poll to determine the design of the Elvis commemorative postage stamp, the WWN conducted its own poll pitting the USPS's 1950s Elvis and 1970s Elvis versus its own, 1990s Elvis. The WWN's Elvis won.
In 1994, the newspaper broke the news about the death of a popular rock musician long presumed deceased, running a front cover that said "Elvis Presley Dead!" and revealing that he had been living a secret life since 1977 but was now "really dead" from heart failure after slipping into a diabetic coma. In a 2004 Washington Post article on Clontz's death, humorist Gene Weingarten claimed that he and Dave Barry were the sources of the story. According to Weingarten, the WWN later reported that claims of Elvis's death had been a hoax. In an earlier telling of his story, Weingarten varied some details.
The World's Fattest...
Numerous stories regarding shockingly obese people and animals made the pages of WWN, the most popular of which was Tonya, the world's fattest cat. After first being discovered, WWN encouraged readers to send in their guesses as to exactly how much they believed Tonya weighed. Weighing in at over 80 lbs., Tonya has been featured being adopted, and possibly sat on, by the world's fattest woman. Later stories involved Tonya's attempts to lose weight through the "Catkins" diet, her struggle with anorexia, and claims that she had been eaten by the world's thinnest woman. Other stories have featured the exploits of the world's fattest couple at the gym, the world's fattest baby, and even a similar weight-guessing contest featuring the world's fattest dog. One continuing story featured a morbidly obese man named Buster Simcus who had lost so much weight that it left 80 pounds of loose skin hanging off his body that he was planning to have surgically removed. By the next story, he blew up again, severely damaging his scars.
Upcoming economic depressions
WWN covered stories that featured analysis of a coming Great Depression in the immediate future in which many prominent celebrities, politicians, and icons of business would become penniless. The cover story of the June 6, 2005, issue warned that the second Great Depression was "just weeks away." Because of this, Texas Oil Tycoons were planning to flee to Luxembourg, the only country to survive this economic crash. The consequences of this depression would include:
- An 80% unemployment rate;
- A collapse of all the nation's banks, causing them to call in all loans and mortgages, leaving a vast majority of Americans homeless;
- An inability to afford any military program at all, forcing America to put an end to the War on terror;
- A Somalia-like famine;
- Hyperinflation, leaving all paper money worthless;
- Enormous mobs of looters ravaging towns and cities that cannot afford to pay police;
- A disease epidemic caused by Americans unable to afford health care, including epidemics of cholera, tuberculosis, polio, and even the bubonic plague;
- The absence of food, forcing starving citizens to resort to cannibalism of deceased relatives;
- Americans overcome with despair turning their backs on their religion and returning to pagan religions and possibly selling their souls to Satan and Christians who stubbornly continue to adhere to their religion being burned alive and having their virgin daughters sacrificed; and
- The world completely running out of oil.
A followup in the August 15, 2005, issue revealed plans by China to buy a controlling interest in all of America's banks, effectively buying out the nation's economy. According to the article, China currently owns more than 100 U.S. banks with assets totaling roughly 17 trillion dollars, making it the majority shareholder in America.
Religion and Biblical relics
Weekly World News was often the first to report the findings of biblical relics, including Noah's Ark, the Garden of Eden (claimed by the tabloid to be in Colorado), and the discovery of additional commandments from God. The magazine obtained information about when Jesus will return to Earth. WWN was also the first to speak of a pair of sandals worn by Jesus. Other stories disclosed that natural disasters such as earthquakes have opened up gates and portals to Hell from which demons have escaped which are now wreaking havoc upon the earth. A story shortly after September 11, 2001 showed the face of Satan appearing in a cloud of dust caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center. Similar stories, wherein Satan's face had appeared in a thunderstorm, had appeared before.
Following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, WWN featured articles exposing plans for possible future terrorist attacks on the United States of America. A 2004 cover story leaked plans by Kim Jong-il to eventually invade and conquer the United States. Other stories featured profiles on the location and nature of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, including the news that Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of giant slingshots, the missing link, and dinosaurs. In 2003, a series of articles profiled the ongoing relationship between and eventual marriage of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Other stories have made claims that Bin Laden is actually a dwarf, that he recruited a cloned Adolf Hitler to join Al Qaeda, and that he is in fact dead and that the CIA is keeping it a secret. Since being captured by Bat Boy, Saddam has been humiliated by female prison guards, won the United States lottery, and even demanded that the government pay for his sex change operation.
Saddam Hussein's heartbreak
Throughout 2003, just prior to the capture of Saddam Hussein and persisting after his capture, WWN ran a series of articles on an alleged romance between him and Osama bin Laden. The setup of the plot alleged that Saddam Hussein once starred in gay porn films.
The "couple" apparently had a steamy, sensual affair before a wedding was performed with Hussein as the bride and bin Laden as the groom. Later, they traveled the globe, ending up in France. They adopted a shaved ape baby (Robert) that posed as a human child. After an argument, Hussein left for Iraq to be comforted in his home town of Tikrit by family and friends and hid in the spider hole until Bat Boy discovered him.
Saddam's Nuclear Submarine
In 2002 WWN reported that Saddam Hussein was hiding in his nuclear submarine, called the "Saddam-tilus," in Lake Michigan. In this submarine he had a theme park and half the Iraqi military. It was also reported that he was planning to launch his nuclear missiles at New York and Los Angeles, saving Washington, D.C., for his new capital, where he would demolish the White House and build a new palace made of the ruins of the White House. Also, he planned to carve a statue of himself out of the Washington Monument. The article went on to further describe how he got the submarine into Lake Michigan: He used the help of bin Laden's "alien allies."
WWN is often the home to political satire regarding current and past presidential administrations. The magazine disclosed that the founding fathers were all gay and that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were actually women. Abraham Lincoln, according to the paper, was insane, and his ghost has also been spotted in the White House giving President George W. Bush advice on the war in Iraq. Stories about President George W. Bush capitalized on the public's perception that he lacked intelligence. The paper has chronicled his plans to run for pope, his love affair with Janet Reno, and his intention to nominate Yoda as secretary of defense. The paper also reported his secret plans to invade the moon and mine it for the rich oil reserves discovered underneath. The June 21, 2004, issue stated that Vice President Dick Cheney was actually a robot and that his frequent trips to the hospital allowed him to rewire his circuits.
Aliens are another subject frequently tackled by WWN.
Weekly World News blamed these creatures for holes in the ozone. A Roswell crash survivor, "Altair Bob," made contact with WWN via telepathic e-mail. Several factions of extraterrestrials have been using the moon to dump garbage. Martians have been monitoring the Mideast crisis. Warrior aliens have been resurrecting the dead, fighting Bigfoot, and training in a mock U.S. town hidden in Antarctica. San Franciscans have opened their hearts to immigrants from Mercury.
One such alien, named P'Lod, who made several appearances in WWN, has been known to fraternize with known women of politics. It was reported that he and Hillary Rodham Clinton once had a close relationship that ended up in a brawl between him and Bill Clinton, who went on a jealous rage. After P'Lod left Hillary, he expressed a lot of interest in Condoleezza Rice.
In the June 7, 1994, edition, WWN reported that 12 U.S. senators were aliens from other planets. The piece quoted several senators or their spokespersons humorously "confirming" the story. The Associated Press ran a followup piece that confirmed the tongue-in-cheek participation of Senate offices in the story. WWN quoted Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) as saying he was "amazed it took you this long to find out." Charles Pelkey, the then-spokesman for Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), told the AP: "We've got only one thing to say: Klaatu barada nikto."
In the August 11, 1998, edition, WWN reported that autograph dealer Steve Koschal offered to pay $1 million for anything signed by an extraterrestrial. Koschal said he would pay the million dollars to anyone who had a signed letter or signed photograph or anything signed by a visitor from outer space. "Hundreds of people claim to have been abducted and taken aboard UFOs and yet there's not a single verifiable signature of an extraterrestrial being anywhere on Earth," said Koschal in an exclusive interview. "Someone out there must have asked one of these creatures for an autograph," continued Koschal. "If not, someone will in the future. When they do, I want to be the first collector to acquire it." 
Cryptids and half-animal half-human hybrids are frequently the topic of many issues of Weekly World News. Creatures such as Bigfoot, merpeople, real-life catwomen, half-alligator half-humans, frog babies, kangaroo women, and many other creatures have taken the world by storm on various covers (e.g. Abominable Beachman strikes terror in Hawaii! and Bigfoot Steals Race Car!!!!).
The existence of merfolk is also frequently reported in the pages of the Weekly World News.
The most detailed article from the Weekly World News recounted a mermaid being caught in a fishing net off the coast of Florida on April 17, 2004. She was at least half human, very sociable, and extremely intelligent. The mermaid measured five feet from the tip of her upturned nose to the end of her spiny, translucent tail. Experts who talked with WWN reporters said she was able to talk in a sophisticated "three dimensional language" that depends heavily on noises that could possibly be connected to the "click languages" prevalent in parts of Africa and on hand movements that look like sign language used by deaf people around the globe. A linguist who had spent several hours with the mermaid at an undisclosed marine study facility in Florida declared that once they are able to establish communication, everything known about human evolution, the specialness of human intelligence, everything thought about fish—"It's all going out the door."
Similar to their female counterparts, mermen are found within the pages of the Weekly World News. On June 17, 2003, a merman was reported to have been caught in the South Pacific. The bizarre creature measured 28 inches, significantly shorter than a mermaid caught the following year in a fishing net (which measured five feet from the tip of her upturned nose to the end of her translucent tail), though this most likely points to the fact that they might have been two separate merpeople species. Another contributing factor might have been the different area of the world in which it was caught. See also: Fiji Mermaid.
||This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (March 2012)|
- Marisa DeMatha, a Texas pool player with a mouth so large she can stuff it with multiple billiard balls.
- The chaos cloud, an enormous dustcloud in outer space, that is on its way to destroy the Earth in 2014.
- A fossilized tornado found underground.
- Bigfoot having stolen a race car during a race, earning the name BigLEADfoot!
- Raw sewage being sold as hamburger meat in Japan.
- A Dutch biography of Hans Christian Andersen that alleges that Andersen hated children and frequently dined on human flesh.
- In May 2001, a cover story stating that they had photographs of Timothy McVeigh after he had been executed. (The problem with those claims was that McVeigh had just received a temporary stay of execution and was not killed until June 11, 2001.)
- A cruel surgeon who reattached a pair of conjoined twins (the actual article referred to them as "Siamese" twins) after they failed to pay their medical bill for the initial surgical separation he performed.
- Christer Hilding, a Swedish baby who died after drinking household ammonia, whose parents had his remains freeze-dried by a taxidermist. When the couple died in a boating accident, his remains were bought for $10 in a garage sale.
- Another popular story involving a cannibal food critic who rated the people he had eaten based on their nationalities. For example, he didn't like Mexican or Chinese people as food because they were "too spicy." Germans, on the other hand, were fattening and "greasy" while the one American he had eaten was rated highly for "taste, texture, and appearance."
- The latest purported discoveries from the RMS Titanic, often featured on the Weekly World News's front cover, particularly in its later years. Examples of objects being found onboard were puppies, live babies, and the remains of gay lovers still in embrace.
- Australia being attacked by "Kangorus" (a parody of Godzilla, name spoof of Anguirus).
- In late 2010, a satirical story, written by Frank Lake, indicating that the Los Angeles Police Department intended to purchase 10,000 jet packs at a total cost of one billion dollars. This story was later reported as fact by the Fox & Friends morning news show.
- In early 2011, a claim that Facebook would shut down in March 2011. The story was confirmed to be a hoax.
- In 2012, a claim again that Facebook would shut down in March 2012. Again the story was confirmed to be a hoax with an official reply from Facebook to the technology blog Mashable that reads, "The answer is no, so please help us put an end to this silliness. We didn't get the memo about shutting down and there's lots to do, so we'll just keep cranking away like always."
In October 2006, Weekly World News relaunched its website in color. The site included video reportage and an interactive Bat Boy map. Other new features include "Share your Sightings" and categorizing breaking news in "National," "International," and "Intergalactic" news bureaus.
Headlines on the website are refreshed daily. Samples:
- "Security Blanket Actually Saves Child's Life" 
- "Astronomer Rebuked For Endless Staring into Space" 
- Lori Becker, "Weekly World News tabloid to close up shop", Palm Beach Post, July 24, 2007
- Peter Carlson, "All the News That Seemed Unfit to Print", Washington Post, August 6, 2007
- "Former Weekly World News editor Eddie Clontz dead at 56", Associated Press, January 29, 2004
- Mark Miller, "Weekly World News meets God!", Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2007
- Richard Corliss, "The Late Great Weekly World News", TIME, 30 Aug 2007.
- Clifford, Stephanie (October 22, 2008). New Adventures for Bat Boy, and His Tabloid Creator. The New York Times.
- DEVOUT CHRISTIAN ATTACKED — AND HE'S THE ONE FINED!
- HOG-ZILLA! MUTANT 12-FT. PIG KILLED IN GEORGIA
- Weekly World News, April 2, 2005, p. 25
- BABY DRAGON IN JAR ROCKS SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY!
- POPE BEATS THE DEVIL—THREE TIMES!
- Lang, Derrik J. (January 5, 2006). RelishArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1128769074592&path=!entertainment!general!&s=1037645508970 "Writing for tabloids was out of this world". Winston-Salem Journal.
- Beaujon, Andrew. "Weekly World News erects paywall, ending debate forever". Poynter.
- Horgan, Richard. "Wacky Tabloid Weekly World News Turns to LA Paywall Firm". FishbowlLA/MediaBistro.
- Gene Weingarten, "Aliens Beam Editor To Tabloid Heaven", Washington Post, January 24, 2004
- Gene Weingarten (host), "Funny? You Should Ask", Washington Post, September 10, 2002
- "Senators Jokingly Confirm Tabloid Claim They Are Space Aliens", Associated Press, May 25, 1994
- "I'll Pay $1 Million for a Space Alien Autograph!". Weekly World News. August 11, 1998. Retrieved August 11, 2010.
- Movie News and Rumors - Yahoo! Movies
- What! Facebook to go out of business?
- It's official: Facebook not shutting down