Dear Martin Baron, editor of The Washington Post,
Yesterday, I could not help but notice your publication neglected to run my obituary submitted for a Mr. Barack H. Obama.
Where’s your holiday spirit? For centuries (okay, probably decades) April Fool’s Day has been the only time serious publications can breathe easier and have a little fun with their audience. What’s more fun than a false obituary for the sitting president? I’m not asking for a cover-to-cover obituary special; I’m asking for 238 words about the passing of a great man. Most readers wouldn’t even notice, but it would baffle a select few–why would The Washington Post cover the death of a president with a small obituary, rather than blasting it all over the front page? There’s little risk anyone would believe the obituary, as it contained such gems as “President Obama passed peacefully in his sleep due to complications from sleep apnea, which he developed at a young age after lodging a crayon into his nasal cavity.” At best, you would get nine phone calls: seven from people who neglected to check for news of the President’s death anywhere else, and two from doctors who only read the obituaries and then offer to be interviewed for future pieces about sleep apnea. Apparently, The Washington Post isn’t quite as “on fleek” (a term I learned is “in” by this very publication) as I thought. The fun doesn’t have to be confined to the funny pages, nestled somewhere between “Classic Peanuts” and “Big Nate”– it can be anywhere. You have to trust that your audience is smart enough to know the difference between a real news story and a well-placed, phony death notice. Judging by the fact your audience still reads newspapers, odds are they’re pretty smart.
Editor-in-Chief, The Annual
P.S. Editor to editor, how do you get people to invest in your publication?