Darwin’s laneway housing prank hits national headlines

Darwin’s laneway housing prank hits national headlines

Posted on Thursday, April 05 2012 at 8:57 AM

A prank NT News article about proposed infill housing in Darwin laneways has hit national news headlines as legitimate news, despite the newspaper admitting to the April Fools’ Day prank on Monday this week.

Syndicated news can be risky business, particularly in a large network like News Limited. This week was a perfect example of how even prank news in the News Limited-owned NT News can infiltrate through the corporation’s national news network and be reported on by other publications as legitimate news, minus the clearly mentioned day-after April Fools’ Day joke acknowledgement as done so in the Darwin regional daily.

On April Fools’ Day last Sunday the NT News reported that the Northern Territory’s Planning Minister announced that Darwin’s laneways would be infilled with ridiculously narrow housing to eliminate anti-social behaviour in these laneways and to boost affordable housing.

In a second article in the same April Fools’ Day issue the newspaper also reported that major liquefied natural gas giant Inpex had struck a deal with the NT Government to construct a tunnel from Darwin to Mandorah.

While both were practical jokes, the laneway article was syndicated to news.com.au and no mention was made in the online news source of the news being a practical joke; readers were only informed of the joke if they clicked through a link to the NT News article, then clicked through a second link outlining more details of the proposal.

LJ Hooker Darwin’s Robert Higgins said that jokes aside, the anti-social behaviour in Darwin’s laneways “hits the paper frequently” as an issue. “So does the lack of affordable housing, so put the two issues together and that’s the solution that was reported on April Fools’ Day.”

Higgins said laneways were designed throughout Darwin suburbs as pedestrian links between shopping centres and parks, “so people could walk from one suburban space to another”.

“However while intended to have a useful purpose what these laneways have attracted is some bad behaviour,” he said.

“Some laneways have been locked off permanently with gates at either end, others are locked only at nights, others remain open with no problems.”

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