New Brunswick satirical news site The Manatee has taken their latest project to print: a parody of Brunswick News papers.
Titled The Times & Gleaner Journal, its front page features a story on Saint John’s reversing falls glowing in the dark due to Irving Pulp & Paper mill waste. Inside you’ll find scoops on fine dining and nightlife in Miramichi and backyard sightings of comedian James Mullinger.
Shauna Chase, a former copy editor at the Telegraph-Journal, started The Manatee with her partner Alex Vietinghoff about four years ago. Both were fans of The Onion and have journalism backgrounds and were looking for a way to merge those interests.
“Initially he and I wrote a few stories on a basic WordPress site, then as soon as we started publishing them, they gained major traction on social media, and soon dozens (probably hundreds over the years) of people started submitting their own stories by email,” Chase wrote in an email to The Brunswickan.
The Manatee now has a core group of contributors who write for the publication on a near-daily basis. The site recently surpassed 15 000 likes on Facebook and has reached more than 7 million site views.
Contributor Brandon Hicks, a St. Thomas University graduate, pitched the idea of creating a parody print paper to Chase a few months ago. Four months later, they had a document filled with enough satirical news to lay out a 12-page paper.
“We thought it would be funny to make a print paper since we all know print newspapers are less popular all the time,” Chase said. “We didn't expect to make any money – we just wanted to mock the Telegraph-Journal in the Telegraph-Journal's typical format.”
The Manatee ran into challenges finding a printer in the Maritimes willing to take on the project, which resulted in a delayed publication date.
Chase said she sent proofs and and signed contracts with a few companies who ultimately rejected the print job due to “the nature of the content.”
“I think not only did they find the comedy a little "off colour" – which it totally is – but there's a huge fear of the Irvings here in the Maritimes,” she said. “And since Brunswick News [BNI] is Irving-owned and our paper was a BNI parody, the printing companies we were dealing with didn't want to risk any kind of retribution from the Irvings.”
The Manatee ultimately went with a company in Ontario that printed the paper without any issues.
The newspaper is divided into typical newspaper sections and is nearly identical to a Brunswick News paper, other than the satirical content. The paper mocked various Telegraph-Journal features, such as a weekend section called “Sightings,” where readers can send in wildlife photos. The Manatee’s spoof edition replaced the section with “Sightings” of Saint John comedian James Mullingers in people’s backyards.
People looking to get their hands on a copy can order it online from The Manatee’s store. Chase said the publication also plans on taking some around to the major cities in New Brunswick and distributing them in person.