Mass Printing of Fake NYT

A prank six months in the making.

Yesterday morning, in New York and across the country, a special edition of the New York Times was handed out free of charge in subways and on street corners. Many readers at first thought they might be getting those extra Obama Victory editions that publishers have promised, but they were in for a serious surprise.

The free paper was, in fact, a satirical publication, dated July 4th, 2009. It featured headlines such as “IRAQ WAR ENDS” and “National Health Insurance Act Passes.” The idea, it seems, was to riff on the media's tendency to insist that now that we have a new President, all our problems will be solved in the space of a few months.


The organization claiming responsibility for the mass printing is none other than The Yes Men, a group that impersonates big business and magnates of the corporate world in order to draw attention to their avarice and humiliate them.

According to Yes Men spokespeople, this bit of fakery was eight months in the making, and involved the printing and distribution of 1.2 million copies of their 'special edition.' That's a lot of newspaper printing for a private organization to pull off with no intention of profiting from it in any way.

Apparently, they used six different printers, and volunteers drove the edition to drop-off locations where more volunteers handed them out.

The other noteworthy aspect of the prank is the extreme detail with which the Yes Men copied the design of the New York Times. The typography and layout were identical, and even some ads were copied over, with a satirical twist, of course.

The Yes Men also tried their hand at some copycat web design, so if you want to see for yourself what all the fuss is about, you can check out the spoof NYT website here – another very well-done reproduction.

Of course, terms like 'joke,' 'prank,' and 'satire,' fail to capture the point being made by this special edition of the New York Times. It is, in fact, a piece of highly political printing, critiquing the biased and speculative nature of the media's coverage of current affairs.

And any printing this political must have been done by some very political printers. I wonder who they are, and if they will proudly make themselves known, or if they're anxious to keep their secrets.

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