New Zealand minister’s prank fools news agencies

April 1st, 2008 - 2:09 pm ICT by admin  

Wellington, April 1 (DPA) New Zealand Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick’s April Fools’ prank Tuesday embarrassed two news agencies which used a bogus press release saying her department had trained rats to find rare native frogs. The New Zealand Press Association (NZPA) wrote a story from the release which it put on its wire service to newspapers and issued the statement which came from Chadwick’s office under her name as part of its distribution service of official press releases.

“I’m surprised it would have been sanctioned by a minister and surprised that people employed by the government have time to spend on practical jokes like this which cost everybody else time and damage control,” said Nick Brown, editor of NZPA, which subsequently killed the story.

Chadwick’s press secretary, Pip Chapman, told Newsroom the minister agreed to the release, which was drafted by a staff member, thinking it was a bit of fun and a light-hearted way to bring attention to native frogs.

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