We’re getting into the thick of election season in the U.S. And what’s being dubbed as “zombie papers” are starting to crop up. Keep reading to see today’s full writing prompt and my completed version of it.
Today’s Writing Prompt: Zombie Newspaper
Zombie papers are usually more prevalent in scientific research. But now they’re starting to crop up in local neighborhoods across the U.S. during election season. Today, write about a character or community that encounters one and what they do once they encounter it. And try to write about the impact zombie newspapers have in the real world.
For more information on zombie newspapers, and what a zombie paper is in general, read Right-wing ‘zombie’ papers attack Illinois Democrats ahead of elections published by NPR and ‘Zombie papers’ just won’t die. Retracted papers by notorious fraudster still cited years later published on science.org.
Completed Version of Today’s Writing Prompt
Zombie Newspaper, by K.E. Creighton
I went outside to wave goodbye to Janie as she left for school and accidentally sloshed coffee on my robe when I bent down to grab the newspaper off the front stoop. The Sun Valley News? Who subscribed to this? Probably Janie. She’s started to get more interested in local issues ever since she came back home to take more classes at the university in town.
The main headline on the front page read: State Senator Joe Clinton Suspected of Pedophilia. And the two headlines underneath read Climate Change Is A Hoax, Here’s The Proof, and Beware Of New Law Allowing Convicts To Be Released On Your Streets.
What is this?
I text Janie to see if she had subscribed to it. She says she has no idea what I’m talking about and that she has an app I’ve never heard of that she uses to read all her news.
I sit down and start reading the newspaper. One story after another tells me who and what to be scared of in my own community, my own town. The mosque down the way is stealing my tax dollars apparently, according to one story. And Mexican immigrants are taking all jobs in the factory in the area, another story says. Other local politicians who are pushing for healthcare rights are all pedophiles, yet another says. And the oil industry is actually good for the planet.
What? Seriously? What is this?
I can’t believe my eyes. I can’t believe these absurd things are actually printed on this paper. And that it was on my doorstep. Why? I need to contact someone. But who?
I search the pages of the paper and can’t find contact information anywhere. I go online to search for the names in the bylines and the owners of those names are all either dead or don’t have an online footprint at all. I can’t even find who funds this paper. I search and I search. This paper has no trace. Where the hell did it come from?
The next week another edition of The Sun Valley News shows up on my doorstep again. It has the same type of stories as the previous edition I mysteriously received, but with differently worded headlines. But I can’t unsubscribe to it because I never subscribed to it in the first place.
When I ask my neighbor Bill about the mystery paper he says yeah he’s been reading the paper too and he can’t believe how crazy the world has become. Wait does he believe the stories? I wondered. Bill also mentions that Steve from across the street reads it too and we should have a neighborhood meeting to discuss the things mentioned in the paper. Incredible! We must do something! He goes on and on and I go back inside.
Without fail, the paper shows up once a week until our local election is held. And then I notice it disappears entirely from my stoop…