Seventeen years ago (yikes), I was the editor in chief of my college newspaper, The Review.
At the University of Delaware, The Review meant something. It was widely read, filled with advertisements, columnists took heat. If one were to work for a student newspaper, he/she could do much, much worse.
Anyhow, I liked to liven things up. To take chances. So I made the decision, against the advice of nearly everyone (except for Brian Hickey and Greg Orlando), to put out an April Fools issue of The Review.
Man, I wish that thing were archived. We had two lead stories on the front page. One—SNOOP EXCITED TO ADDRESS BITCHES AT COMMENCEMENT—was the story of Snoop Dogg being chosen to speak to students after the original choice, Tom Clancy, was gunned down in a drive-by. The other—MIDGETS FIGHT TO TAKE OVER NEWARK—was the saga of short people overtaking the college town. The beauty of that piece was the sheer, utter, remarkable lack of taste. Inside The Review offices we had a bunch of bins with archived photos. One of the pictures was of a past student-government leader, standing against a brick wall, who happened to suffer from Dwarfism. He was a tiny little guy, with smallish arms, hands and feet.
Anyhow, we took the picture, placed a football helmet atop his head, named him Butch Romano and listed him as the Blue Hens’ new starting nose guard.
When the paper came out, the reaction was both glorious and lousy. The journalism teachers hated it. I mean, just loathed it. The students, as a whole, celebrated the damn thing. But the most memorable moment came when I received a call from a woman—the mother of the former student who had Dwarfism. She was not happy, and threatened to have the Little People of America picket the paper. They, of course, would have been righteous and just in cause. It was not a cool thing that we students did. Not even remotely cool.
And yet …
I regret nothing. One teacher said, “Ten years from now you’ll look back with great shame.” Well, I never did. Because college is about learning; about stretching limits; about taking chances. That’s the kind of stuff you’re supposed to do, then figure things out from the aftermaths.
So if you’re reading this, and you’re a college newspaper editor, and you’re debating an April Fools issue for next year—do it, do it, do it.
PS: The above strip, written by Hickey, appeared in the day’s comics section.