April Fools’ Day “pranks”?

At April Fools’ time, we’re sometimes asked how we feel about people planting “prank stories” in the media. We don’t find such pranks very amusing. Some people may be trying to be funny, but we also encounter hoaxes calculated to accomplish political or financial ends. Our task is to produce a news report that people can believe in. False material – however intended – undermines our mission. Each year our staff takes extra measures to be vigilant as April Fools’ Day nears, though we know well that hoaxes can be perpetrated at any time. We would not consider someone who attempts to perpetrate an April Fools’ hoax to be a reliable source for anything in the future, April Fools’ Day or not.

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About Tom Kent

Deputy managing editor and standards editor of The Associated Press, responsible for accuracy and balance across all AP news services. Frequent contributor to forums and conferences on newsroom ethics and organization. Adjunct professor at the School of International Affairs and Journalism School of Columbia University. Former AP correspondent or bureau chief in Russia, Iran, Belgium, Australia and the United States. Graduate of Yale University. Languages: French, Russian, Spanish. @tjrkent