SPRINGFIELD, VA — Gannett Government Media, the parent company which publishes the Army Times, issued a formal apology late Sunday for insensitive additions to an article about a Baghdad car bombing.
“The article ‘Baghdad Wedding Car Bombing Kills 11’ was originally published with that headline,” Gannett said in a statement. “Sometime in the hours after publication, the words ‘Hilarity Ensues’ were added.”
The altered headline appeared in the online article and, incredibly, even made it into a small number of print editions before printing and shipping could be halted. Furious bidding wars have sprung up on eBay and Craigslist for ownership of one of the “pranked” Army Times.
The prankster also managed to edit video included in the online version, filmed by the al-Qaeda-affiliated group claiming responsibility for the attack while beheading three foreign journalists. The altered video was sped up and accompanied by Benny Hill music.
“Gannett apologizes to any readers or viewers who were affronted by this offensive prank, which was in the worst taste,” the statement continued. “We have launched an internal investigation to find the perpetrator and will explore with our legal team the possibility of litigation and prosecution upon discovery of his or her identity.”
The apology was on the front page of the ArmyTimes.com and tweeted by Gannett, and will appear in next week’s print edition.