A regional daily is apologising to its readers after publishing a spoof April 1 press release as a page lead in its business supplement – eight days after the date.
The Archant-owned Eastern Daily Press this week reported the bogus story of a 50 metre tall banjo statue to “rival the Angel of the North” which was set to dominate the Norwich skyline.
Business editor Shaun Lowthorpe said in a statement: “On a light and funny story we were hoaxed by a normally reliable source.
“Our publication was eight days after April Fool’s Day and our defences were down – the firm has apologised to us. We, in turn, are apologising to our readers.”
The spoof was the brainchild of Norwich business The Great British Banjo Company, which is currently named among EDP’s Future 50 firms.
Its press release claimed that world-famous sculptors Anthony Gormley and Anish Kapoor were rumoured to be involved in the project.
The banjo would be placed in a key location near the A47 Southern Bypass and would be visible to traffic approaching Norwich from as far away as five miles.
Construction was “currently under construction in the company’s Norwich workshop,” the press release said.
Managing Director Simon Middleton said he sent a press release which he thought was “so absurd” it would never be used.
He joked: “We’ve hardly got room to make banjos, let alone a 50 metre tall statue.”
He said an EDP reporter contacted Jet Social, which manages his press office, to ask whether the release was true. It confirmed it was not true – but apparently the story was written up elsewhere in the office.
He said: “Maybe one hand did not know what the other was doing. I’m sorry if the release has caused any problems – I feel a bit mean now – but we’ll certainly be sending out a spoof next year. I bet it’s not used, though.”
The press release – which was clearly marked April 1 – was used on Wednesday as a page lead story in the EDP’s business supplement.
Simon said: “I sent it by midday on April 1 and heard nothing, so I assumed it was not being printed. I’ve got an internet alert for’ banjo’ which ‘pinged’ eight days later and when I clicked through, the link didn’t work.
“Apparently the EDP had removed the story, but it still went into print.
“You’d have thought they would have asked how Anish Kapoor or Anthony Gormley had come to be involved. And what about planning permission? It’s amazing really.
“The press release concludes with a line ‘we hope that this fabulous erection will be unveiled later this summer.’ I thought that would have given it away.”