Media outlets received an email Tuesday morning from Houghton College about an incredible project the school is planning. The headline on the release said:
"New York’s Houghton College to Become First College in Nation to Construct $84 Million Bio-dome over Main Campus
New dome to create a semi-tropical environment amid harsh northeast winters."
It went on from there.
"Houghton College announced today that it has secured a donor gift of $60 million to fulfill the needed funding gap in the $84 million bio-dome fundraising campaign. The single $60 million gift comes from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
"The idea for the bio-dome came from an aircraft hangar at an old Soviet military airbase near Berlin in Krausnick, Germany that was converted into a tropical resort of about 194 million cubic feet.
“ ' Approximately 10 years ago, the college had heard news of the tropical island resort in Germany, and they were very intrigued,' ” commented vice president for student life Rob Pool. ' So the question arose … ‘ "Why not us?" ’ We began researching and found a technologies company that was developing this breakthrough material called LPP. From that point on, we knew we were on to something and just had to raise the funds necessary.' ”
The release included this image:
Ever hear the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"? There's a similar one in journalism: "Beware of really odd-sounding project announcements near the beginning of April."
"Yes, it is an April Fools joke," Marshall Green, a public relations specialist for the college said in an email.
Someone at WIVB Channel 4 apparently didn't get the joke, as you can see from this screen grab.
The story subsequently disappeared from the station's website, then reappeared with a new headline identifying it as an April fool's Day story.