There have been plenty of ugly developments in the newspaper industry of late: buyouts, layoffs, Rupert Murdoch's likely purchase of the Wall Street Journal, and so on. But few have been as flat-out tragic as word that the Weekly World News, a tabloid that made news by making up the news, will soon disappear from a supermarket near you. As noted in this Reuters dispatch, American Media, Inc., whose portfolio also features the National Enquirer, announced that the WWN print edition will perish with the August 27 edition, although its online doppelganger will live on at WeeklyWorldNews.com.
A 2003 Message column featured a rare look inside the Weekly World News courtesy of former Rocky Mountain News music writer Justin Mitchell, whose twisted career landed him at the WWN prior to a journalistic rebirth in China. In the following passage, Mitchell describes how he penned the words for a batch of the paper's most famous fictional creations, including combustible columnist Ed Anger:
"Yes, I was Ed Anger," Mitchell confirms. "I was also Serena Sabak ('world's sexiest psychic advisor') and Dotti Primrose," whom he described in an unpublished article written for the Denver Post as "Dr. Laura on paint thinner." He landed on the paper's front page with an earthshaker about a mermaid that was found in a can of tuna, and as the Iraq crisis was coming to a boil, he checked in with a pair of timely exposés, "Saddam Statue Sheds Mystery Tears" and "Saddam's Doubles Looking for New Jobs." Still, his personal favorite was "Amazon Tribe Worships Wisconsin Bowling Team as Gods." The WWN horoscope was another of Mitchell's playgrounds, and he often sprinkled his astrological blurbs with rock lyrics. On one occasion, his advice to Scorpios drew upon the collected wisdom of Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, the Doors, Pink Floyd, Blind Blake and the aforementioned Fab Four: "If there's a bustle in your hedgerow on Tuesday afternoon, consider breaking through to the other side and breathe, breathe in the air. Look around, choose your own ground. Ditty-wah-ditty. Lucky number: 9."
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For more about Mitchell's memories of the Weekly World News, including the tab's approach to (ahem) fact-checking, click here. In the meantime, lament the passing of a true newspaper landmark. And big business, not Bigfoot, is to blame. -- Michael Roberts