Gotcha! Columbia University Publishes Fictitious Article, Dupes Everyone
February 8, 2011
by Suada Kolovic
Columbia University, one of the eight members of the Ivy League, knows how to have a good time. So much so that the university’s student paper – The Morningside Post – ran a satirical story about a student who was mugged by conscientious muggers.
Jane Watkins, a first year International Security Policy concentrator, was on her way to class when two men wearing ski masks and dressed entirely in black approached her. "They started to run away with my bag but I screamed and begged them to let me have my Statistics homework," Ms. Watkins reported. "I told them they could have my wallet, my iPhone, anything – just not the homework." According to Ms. Watkins’ report, it was then that one of the muggers reached into her purse and retrieved her homework assignment, laying it neatly on the sidewalk next to where the incident occurred.
The story fooled readers and media outlets, most notably Gawker. They linked to the story despite calling it a “credulity-straining report.” The site has since affirmed that the Post article is a satire. Since the backlash, an editorial note was added to the article: “Due to questions from concerned readers, we would like to point out that this is a fictitious story. We thought we’d have a little bit of fun with this one. Imagine if The New York Times had a SIPA beat...”
What do you think of Columbia’s attempt at satire? Do you find it funny? Let us know what you think.