We ran a short paragraph in the last print edition of the paper which read:
This will be the last non-profit edition of Fitzrovia News. The paper, website and social media network is to be sold and will be taken over by a private company backed by a partnership of Fitzrovia businesses who will form a business improvement district (BID). The BID, Fitzrovia Pandemonium, will take over on 1 April and be looking to provide more upmarket and positive coverage of building development, property investment, venture capital, licensing, and the tourist trade.
And we published a longer article on Friday on the website which gave a more elaborate cock-and-bull story, pretending to announce to our online readers that the paper had been sold and that it would be used to market a Business Improvement District (BID). We even mocked up a fake front page and a fake website.
One worried reader emailed us to say:
Buried on the the last page of the “news in brief” section of the latest issue of the Fitzrovia News appears to be an announcement that the paper and website has been purchased by the developers you have fought so hard against.
Another made a plea for the new owners to retain the current editorial team:
As a local resident and community campaigner for over 40 years who has regularly enjoyed the Fitzrovia News, I wish to express my appreciation not only for the wonderful current Spring issue, but especially to Mike Pentelow and the editorial team for all the dedicated and devoted professionalism and community care which has achieved such publishing success throughout its many landmark years. Will they be invited to lead the paper and provide their expertise for new owners The Fitzrovia Pandemonium?
With a eulogy like that we might have gone a little too far with our little joke. One colleague of mine did suggest it was a little too believable and that we had cruelly taken people for a ride.
We received one complaint which said:
The April Fool joke is really not a very good idea. People are going to feel like they’ve been made fools of by the Fitzrovia News.
Only a fool would write such a thing…
Last year we ran an article saying that Bolsover Street was being re-named Great Titchmarsh Street in honour of broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh who planted a tree in the Street. Many people thought it was a lovely idea. So much so that we didn’t have the heart (well, not brave enough) to tell them it was just a joke.
For the foreseeable future Fitzrovia News will continue to be produced by the Fitzrovia News Community Newspaper Group and supported by the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association.