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The Worst News-Themed April Fool’s Day Pranks of 2012

No doubt about it, there were definitely some great pranks coming out of newsrooms this April Fool’s Day. Some of the good ones were Conan O’Brien buys Mashable, The Next Web moves to a pay-per-view model, and NPR reporting tweets will shrink to 133 characters.

But there were also some stinkers. Here are the ones that made our list.

The OffenderForbes

The Prank: When Forbes blogger Len Burman headlined his April Fool’s Day post “Romney Drops out of Race, Endorses Santorum”, he knew it was a joke. Unfortunately, Google News did not. Forbes was forced to take down the story after it began ranking at the top of Google News. The story may be gone, but the URL remains.

You can find the whole text of the story on the Short Form Blog.

The Offender: Onward Sate

The Prank: Remember the student publication at Penn State that made headlines after erroneously tweeting Joe Paterno had died? This April Fool’s, the editors decided to make light of the situation. They probably could have chosen a better way than reporting the (false) death of a former editor. And yes, it was the one who quit after the Paterno incident.

The Offender: The Ontario (Wis.) County Line

The Prank: Readers and local media alike missed the joke of Wisconsin-based The County Line’s annual April Fool’s Day column. The 2,000 circulation paper ran a story stating Disney was buying a beloved local bike trail. Other media outlets in the state reported the column as actual news. Readers started complaining to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, even going as far as to plan a protest rally. Eventually, the DNR sent out a press release clarifying that the story was false.

Check out the Storify I made of worst news-themed April Fool’s Day pranks of 2012.

What else should we add to our list? What was the worst news-themed April Fool’s Day prank you saw this year?

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