Every now and again, a foreign news agency picks up a story from The Onion as fact and the world snickers behind their back. A Chinese state-run paper and a South Korean paper picked up Kim Jong Un’s election as the “Sexiest Man Alive.” The Iranians ran with an Onion story that rural whites “would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Barack Obama.”

And everyone falls for the Daily Currant because it’s not really funny.

One law school is now prominently displaying its award as the “Most Amazing Place to Get Smart” from a local satirical newspaper…

The school is University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, and the publication honoring the legal program is the Rock City Times. The Rock City Times may not be as big as its cousin The Onion, but it has successfully duped foreign news agencies into picking up one of its stories, so that cherry’s been popped.

The UALR Law Facebook page recently changed its cover photo to reflect its recognition from the good folks at the Rock City Times:

“I’d like to thank the Academy…”

As it turns out, the story is a little more complex. Much like The Onion A.V. Club, the Rock City Times is capable of pulling its tongue out of its cheek from time to time. All signs indicate the paper honestly thinks UALR Law is the best place to get an education in the area. But while The Onion went to the effort of getting a separate domain for the A.V. Club, the Rock City Times placed its awards on the same page as “Jesus Makes Surprise Early Return Visit to Punch Mike Huckabee in the Face,” which is not true, or else Elie would be crying in the corner worried about what this revelation would do to his future appearances on Huckabee.

Sometimes the publication rides the proverbial traffic island between real and fake news. It reported on the movement to draft UALR Law Adjunct Professor Joel DiPippa to run for Arkansas Attorney General to replace the current Attorney General Dustin McDaniel who admitted to an affair during his abortive gubernatorial run. The movement to draft DiPippa does exist, but it showed up on Facebook the same day that the Rock City Times reported it — perhaps a “tail wagging the dog” issue. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a thought leader.

But the first comment of, “Um, guys, really?” probably should be a clue for how most people in the know perceive the publication, even if the individual story is not satirical. This raises the question: when should a law school dean reject any praise? At a time when law schools are getting hit from all directions, is there any source whose recognition — however earnest and/or well-supported — a dean should sweep under the rug?

This is probably a conundrum that a bunch of deans faced when they found themselves on the ATL Top 50. I mean, if they were petty jerks.

Most Amazing Places in the Rock 2013 [Rock City Times]
Draft Joel DiPippa for Attorney General Movement Gathering Steam [Rock City Times]

Earlier: ATL Top 50 Law Schools 2013


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