OPINION: April Fools' woodchip contract prank not funny

How many of you were feeling a little sheepish on Friday morning due to a friendly prank or cheeky news article?

There’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s all part of the fun of April Fools’ Day. 

Whether it was the Illawarra Hawks changing their official colours to a lovely shade of brown, Tasmania Police unveiling their new weapon in the war on drugs – sniffer pigs – or photos showing the new location for the Bega memorial clock tower, April Fools’ Day fun had many with a grin on their face for the day.

And it is meant to be fun.

To have a prank that affects people’s livelihoods, with no acknowledgment that it is in jest, is plain mean. 

Overnight Thursday we received an “embargoed media release” for publication Friday morning, outlining the cancellation of timber supply contracts for the Eden chipmill.

It included quotes and contact details from the Forestry Corporation CEO and a reasonably legit-sounding email address.

Wary due to the date anyway, but obviously doing our due diligence on what would have been massive news for the region, we called Forestry to check it was the source of the media release – of course it wasn’t.

Heaven forbid anyone actually published it as truth.

The email creator we do not know at this stage and leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions.

However, what did this April Fools’ Day “prank” hope to achieve?

The best pranks have enough realism to make them believable, but something quirky enough to incite outrage and laughter in hopefully equal measure.

A “media release” outlining the end to an industry that has been a big part of Eden’s growth and responsible for a lot of employment in this region – either directly or indirectly –  is not funny.

That it doesn’t even acknowledge it’s a prank – other than a veiled reference to an “act of God” being responsible for the crashing of international woodchip markets – makes it even nastier in our opinion.

Meanwhile, it was pleasing to see the reaction to our playful coverage of the Bega clock tower memorial’s removal.

For an issue that has created plenty of emotion in the district, hopefully a bit of light-hearted relief was taken in the good spirit with which it was intended.

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