Supermarket tabloids have a dubious reputation for a reason. Most of them are full of lurid celebrity gossip or exaggerated tales of political intrigue. But there is one tabloid that I will always love for its amazing ability to satirize American society and poke gentle fun at Fortean reporting. I speak, of course, of the legendary Weekly World News.
My first vivid memory of the paper involves me being terrified of Bat Boy as a small child. My parents assured me that he was not real – that all of the stories in the WWN were fake, in fact. But the truth is a bit more interesting. Founded in 1979, WWN did originally report on factual news, mostly by way of sorting through reports from other papers and selecting stories about the strange, unusual, and downright weird. These stories would be interspersed with satirical articles as time went on; eventually, the paper shifted more and more of its content toward the weird and satirical. While some people turned their noses up at the bizarre headlines and creepy cover photos, there were plenty of people who became devoted fans of WWN's breathless style and fearless devotion to fun. During my time at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, even the most serious students admitted that having a job at the WWN would be an absolute riot. (Unless you could get hired by The Onion, of course.)
Weekly World News ceased print publication in 2007, but its website is still going strong. Check it out the next time you need an escape from the serious – or if you just need some ideas for creating wacky headlines of your own.
-- Katie Duffy