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Lurid Tales of Doom
"Extra! Extra! Read All About It!! Mother Teresa's face found in cinnamon bun! Extra Extra! Man's pet cat Flopsy abducted by aliens! Extra!"

Sometimes newspapers of a more questionable level of veracity publish news that is clearly bunk, in the case of Alien Abductions, yetis being found and women giving birth to animals. Other times they'll print that which might be true but seems to be kinda loopy and of questionable newsworthiness - toast burned in the likeness of historical figures for example. These stories are of course either complete fabrications in the former case (either made up by journalists or via bored Alan Fridge-esque submissions), or are just questionable coincidences.

The news industry calls this type of "news" 'Man Bites Dog', a name that seems rather more mundane than some of these stories actually tend to be. This sort of publication shows up in fiction from time to time too, especially ones which heavily feature either journalists or well known people (within their universe) frequently or where weird happenings really do occur and these stories are true - or sometimes these stories are bizarre even for the setting.

Not necessarily related to Doomy Dooms of Doom.


Examples

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     Comic Books  

  • In Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, the main character reads one of these in his hotel room. The front cover reads: "What Elvis looks like now!", with a photograph of a sad old man attached.

     Film  

     Literature  

  • In the Harry Potter novels, The Quibbler'' is a parody of this sort of newspaper, featuring stories about, among other things, Cornelius Fudge baking goblins into pies and Sirius Black being a wizard pop star in disguise. Also, the Muggle newspaper accounts of the flying Ford Anglia would have been written off as this by most.
  • The competing paper in the Discworld novel The Truth, The Ankh-Morpork Inquirer, publishes these sort of articles, most notably "Woman Gives Birth To Cobra."
    • The Ankh Morpork Times, on the other hand, eventually manages to print an article with the headline, "Dog Bites Man".
  • Andrew Looney's novel The Empty City features an elderly couple who are avid watchers of television and readers of the Weekly World News; when one of the latter's stories is that the Russians have developed a weapon that cranks up radiation levels from television to kill its watchers, they have to decide whether to abandon television or the Weekly World News.
  • The Midwestern Arcane in The Dresden Files. However, it turns out that much of the stuff they report is actually true.
  • The "National World Weekly" in Good Omens where Scarlet works briefly as a war reporter.

     Live Action TV  

  • Subverting this was the entire point of the TV series The Chronicle. Man goes to work at a tabloid, only to discover that all of their stories are true.
  • The Weekly World News has been mentioned in a few episodes of Supernatural including being used as inspiration by a magical trickster.

     Music  

     Radio  

  • There's a round on Im Sorry I Havent A Clue called Historical Headlines, about how a newspaper headline might look after a certain historical event. It usually draws on the perspectives of different English newspapers for comedy, and there's usually at least one joke about The Sport (see Real Life section). Such as a headline after the completion of Stonehenge: "The Sport — "Giant set of alien false teeth ate my virgin"."

     Tabletop Games  

  • Enjoy the Forgotten Realms tabloid. Titles like "Bane vs. Cyric — Winner Take All!!!!" and "Dire Pandas From Kara-Tur Invade the Unapproachable East!" — and much worse.
    • In the early days of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, the front covers of Dungeon magazine advertised its pre-written adventures this way. "Mad Ranger Goes Wild for Funky Fungus!" "Reclusive Giants Raise Evil Chickens!" "I'm Carrying Tharizdun's Love Child!"
  • The back cover of GURPS Illumnati is in the style of one of these, and the text makes frequent reference to the idea that 'everything you read in the tabloids is true'.
  • Atlas Games' Pandemonium: Adventures in Tabloid World takes place in a world where all of the strange stories in this type of tabloid are true. PCs work as reporters for one of these papers, the Weekly Weird News, investigating things like werewolf secret societies and alien espionage.
  • TSR's Amazing Engine setting Tabloid!
  • Lurid Tales of Doom! for West End Games' Ghostbusters is the Trope Namer.

     Theatre 

     Video Games  
  • Alien Love Triangle Times in the Sam & Max game "Situation: Comedy".
  • Rock Star Ate My Hamster parodies The Sun (which actually held a contest involving the game) with The Stun, a sleazy tabloid which serves up shocking and frequently implausible headlines, several of which follow the formula "ROCK STAR ATE MY (noun)!" The game's manual is packaged as an issue of The Stun, and includes the "exclusive" story "ALIENS STOLE MY VOLVO!"

     Web Comics  

  • In El Goonish Shive, it turns out that Moperville's local newspaper is sold as one of these in neighboring cities... which, considering the number of shape-shifting mutants, aliens, wizards, and anime-style martial artists that pop up around there, makes a lot of sense.
  • Scandal Sheet! is set at one of these, with the twist that some of the stories in the paper are real. "The best place to hide a needle isn't a haystack but a big pile of other needles."

     Western Animation  

  • On Daria, the title character is a frequent viewer of Sick Sad World, which features everything from the trashy (a severely disabled man supposedly sleeping with three members of the royal family) to the absurd (an orca who's a lawyer) to the outright supernatural (zombies). One of the tie-in books features "Stringer Guidelines" from the show, which basically reveal that they'll take anything.
  • Invader Zim has Mysterious Mysteries of Strange Mysteries, Dib's favorite show. However, over the course of the series it has been shown to report on supernatural phenomena both fake (Chickenfoot) and real (spell drives).

     Real Life  

  • Weekly World News was a satirical newspaper that published this sort of story until it folded. Some people genuinely believed them (sometimes,) even though they often recycled stories; one standby every Presidential election year was "Space Alien Endorses [candidate for President]!" (complete with a photo of the alien and the candidate) and there were new doomsday predictions roughly every two weeks, often contradictory.
    • They occasionally printed stories from local area newspapers, things that had really happened but fit their sensationalistic bent.
  • The Daily Sport in the UK is made up of mostly pictures of topless ladies and this sort of "News", such as World War II bombers being found on the moon.
    • And when an astronomer protested that he couldn't see it: "WORLD WAR II BOMBER FOUND ON MOON VANISHES!"
  • While The Sun is not the most erudite of newspapers in Britain it tends not to focus much on this sort of journalism, however one stand-out incident came from a March 1986 issue with the headline "FREDDIE STAR ATE MY HAMSTER!". This "story" has followed Freddie Star around since.
  • The Daily Mail has never been shy about getting in on this act. Their best moment was an online report on "the sinister cult of emo" that combined this with The New Rock & Roll in a masterful display of pigshit ignorance. It came complete with fabricated "satanic religious beliefs" of emos ripped from song lyrics ("the 'black parade' is a place where all emos believe they will go when they die") and the assertion that wrist slitting was an initiation ritual into the cult.


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alternative title(s): National Exaggerator; The National Exaggerator
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