Tuesday, August 07, 2007

When Making Up the News Was a Respectable Profession

Say it ain't so.

The Weekly World News, the outrageous tabloid that never let the facts get in the way of a good story, will cease publication at the end of this month.

It would be appropriate if the paper was vaporized by space aliens, or the final issue had been foretold by Nostradamus, but alas, the WWN suffered a more mundane fate--declining circulation among readers who actually believed the wild tales, or those merely in search of a good laugh. During its heyday in the late 1980s, the WWN had a million readers a week; in recent years, circulation has plunged below 90,000, prompting the paper's owners, American Media, to pull the plug.

In today's Washington Post, Peter Carlson offers an appreciation of the WWN, and the reporters who "cast aside the tired old conventions of journalism, such as printing facts."

Of course, there's more than a touch of irony in that statement. Given the recent history of American journalism, we'd say the WWN has a lot of company in that department. Just ask Janet Cooke, Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, Dan Rather, Jack Kelley and Scott Thomas Beauchamp, to name a few. And, if this January essay by a former journalism student is any indication, there are a few more fabulists in the pipeline.

And maybe that's what separates The Weekly World News from its highbrow brethren in the mainstream media. At least the tabloid was honest about its chicanery.


Asher Abrams said...

Oh, man. This ruins my day.

crosspatch said...

I believe the WWN people have all gone to work for DEBKA.