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5 April Fools' Day pranks that backfired disastrously

5 April Fools Day pranks that backfired disastrously Vox


A volcano in Massachusetts sounds absurd. But the public was willing to panic at the thought, and it cost a producer his job.

As the Christian Science Monitor reported, on April 1, 1980, WNAC-TV in Boston aired a bulletin saying that the Great Blue Hill in Milton, Massachusetts, had become volcanic. It's hard to believe anyone ever took the gag seriously, considering the small size of the hill and the fact that the report was illustrated with stock footage from the recent explosion of Mount St. Helens in Washington. At the end of the segment, there was even a card that read, "April Fool."

But it caused a stir all the same. Local police received numerous calls asking if evacuation was necessary, and the producer of the segment, Homer Cilley, was fired for "failure to exercise good news judgment" and for using stock footage without labeling it clearly. To his credit, Cilley took full responsibility for the failed prank — but he probably wished he hadn't done it in the first place.

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Bottom line: Pranks are not worth the time and energy.

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