A series of fluke story timings gave a weekly newspaper an unexpected surge in online hits when readers believed that footballer David Beckham had signed for a local club.
The Stroud News & Journal had more than 114,000 web hits after it published a story about a mock press conference at a primary school where the “breaking news” was Beckham signing for Forest Green Rovers.
On the day the story was due to be published, the paper’s sports editor got a message to say a new player was being signed later that day by the club and published a teaser piece on it, telling readers to look out for the announcement.
So when the story on the mock press conference dropped onto the website with the headline “Beckham signs for Forest Green”, which was followed by the real news that the football star was leaving Paris St Germain, the website racked up the hits.
Anyone searching Beckham on Google that day was presented with the SNJ’s headline as the top story.
Editor Sue Smith said: “We are always looking at ways to attract more people to our websites, then out of the blue along comes a gift like that.
“This is a nice part of the world though – I am sure the Beckhams would love it if they are looking for pastures new.”
The mock press conference was run by the paper to teach the school pupils about journalism and two children played the part of David and Victoria Beckham.
The fake story reported that Beckham had signed for Forest Green, which is in the fifth tier of professional football, in return for an endless supply of ice-cream from a local company in Gloucestershire.