Media planted pranks on April 1st

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Norwegian media outlets did their best to fool readers and listeners on April Fools’ Day, even though April 1st fell on the Palm Sunday holiday this year. The annual publication of pranks poked fun at everything from government health campaigns to frustratingly slow transport improvements.

Local media have a long tradition of planting false stories in newspapers and on radio and TV broadcasts, often with the willing participation of Norwegian politicians and other authorities. The idea is to fool readers and listeners into believing the often outrageous stories that are called aprilsnarr in Norwegian.

Annual rite of spring
The practice would be unheard of in many countries, but in Norway, members of the public expect the media to plant their pranks, and often tune in to local broadcast outlets or scan newspapers simply to try to pick up the false report aimed at fooling them.

Newspaper Aftenposten, for example, ran a full-page story reporting that state health authorities planned radical new measures to get Norwegians to reduce their consumption of alcoholic beverages. Everyone shopping at the state-controlled liquor stores known as Vinmonopolet would face breathalyzer tests, Aftenposten wrote, while photos of diseased livers would be mandatory on bottle labels.

Newspaper Sandefjords Blad, meanwhile, took the opposite approach and reported that all Norwegians over age 25 who had never been in trouble with the police could apply for a special certificate that would allow them to drink one hour longer on the weekends than others in local bars and restaurants.

Police Chief Lars Reiersen told news bureau NTB (in all seriousness) that he went along with the joke “because there’s been so much noise around our proposal to ban serving after 1am. We hope folks took the joke in good humour, because there are no laws that would allow us to issue such certificates.”

AC/DC support for a highway project
In Trondheim, local newspaper Trønder-Avisa wrote that popular local band DDE had “tapped its enormous network in the music business” to get the famed rock band AC/DC to play a concert at the Lerkendal football stadium this summer. That wasn’t perhaps so far-fetched, but then came the punch line: The concert was aimed to raise funds for construction of a four-lane highway between Steinkjer and Trondheim.

Other pranks included a report in newspaper Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen that the Olympic Museum in Lillehammer would be giving away its collection of memorabilia from the 1994 Winter Games, because they’d run out of space, while Østlandets Blad reported that all the garbage cans in the community of Follo would be painted pink, the same color as uniforms worn by the local football club when they won the Norwegian Cup in 2010.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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