The sky is falling. Climate change is about to turn the Rockies into an island. A major political resignation is about to rock Washington, D.C.
OK, OK, it’s April Fools’ Day, and in the spirit of that non-holiday we are mocking our profession even as we urge all of us to not forget to inject some humor into the dire news of the day.
To be fair, grim news is always there for the reading across our nation’s history. News flash: British massacre in Boston. This just in: Southern states splitting from the Union. Breaking news: Dust storms are turning part of the country into a dust bowl.
But, as most of us know, there’s always another side to the story. The grim tidings referenced above could have easily read: “Tragedy propels colonies toward independence,” “Union’s strength to be tested by strife,” and “Oklahoma’s loss is California’s gain.”
One wonders if newspapers began running cartoons and “funny pages” in order to offset the bad news of the day with a dose of humor and absurdity. Apparently the formula worked, because comic strips have served as print news staples even as newspapers shrink.
The Casper Star-Tribune enjoyed fame in Wyoming for running a small cartoon, titled “The Old Grouch,” on the lower right corner of its front page. With his glum face firmly anchored in the palm of one hand, the Grouch dispensed three- or four-word commentaries on the state of the world and life in general. The cartoon, in its own clever way, served to mildly mock the procession of terror and tragedy that crossed the Star-Tribune’s and a thousand other newspapers’ front pages every day.
The news in all of its forms — print, video, audio and the combination of all of these rolled into the Internet — is intended in its highest form to make us think, to make us question, and to make us act.
But it should also makes us step back in the time-honored tradition of the greatest commentators on this circus called life and poke fun at ourselves and our condition.
Happy April Fools’ Day, and may it be a prank-filled one.