For years I have been trying to torment The Toowoomba Chronicle – successfully. In 2003 they ran a full page article on my old website ‘Toowoomba Is Cool’ which featured skanks taking their gear off with Glenn written on their stomachs, interviews with Jesus, locations to find the best goon bags and much more. Apart from nearly getting bashed up several times it flourished into an online forum for people in Toowoomba talking about music. I didn’t really annoy The Chronicle for a long time until a couple of years ago when I sent an SMS to express my opinion about something. It read “I am sick of having to cross the street every time I see someone with Tattoos – Josh R”. In a few days the newspaper was bombarded with angsty 20-something year olds which lead onto many feature articles discussing the issue. I naturally just got more of my mates to send in a text message and act like they agreed with me and were disgusted at the sight of tattoos. This caused a few more articles and an interview request. Usually when they send an interview request I’m not sure where to take it from there as I’m usually in another city.
Here are some examples of the stories that followed (you don’t have to read the article, just the headline is good enough):
A few months passed and I send a lazy drunk text saying I found Dinosaur bones in my backyard. They called me for an interview but I was way too drunk and underprepared to try and back that one up.
My next one was a few weeks ago, and was definitely a joint effort between my mates Josh and Tom, and a large group of friends I was drinking with at the time. I thought I’d send a little text saying the following:
“Why haven’t the police stopped the new strip club in Mt Lofty!? They openly advertise and I bet they don’t have approval. Caught my husband there the other night. Someone even had the nerve to hand fliers out in front of my son’s school!!!”
Pretty vague, simple and not that funny. Exactly the type of news Toowoomba would thrive on. I tell my mate Josh to send a text to follow up and he sends the following:
“Can the Toowoomba Police please explain the following: why, are you allocating 4 (!) speed cameras between here and pitsworth when my children have complained about pamphlets for strip clubs by the Sudanese outside their school? Get your priorities sorted!
quite simple and vague. Exactly what a disgruntled parent would write. For days the Chronicle were calling us but we didn’t know how to approach it. Instead of answering the calls, Josh and I would just get more and more people to do it. Josh’s brother Tom then sent his own text in complaining about the strip club just so we could keep the theme going. The following morning Tom answers his phone and it’s the Toowoomba Chronicle requesting an interview. Apparently over 20 people had texted the Chronicle about this story, and the journalist seemed to be on top of it all. I don’t know how he did that considering it was all of our friends that were texting in complaining about this new “All Ages Strip Club” near Mt Lofty (Location of Toowoomba State High School).
Instead of doing the interview Tom said he didn’t want his name dragged through the mud so he said he’d send a scanned copy of the flier that people were handing out at the front of his son’s school. Tom designed the following:
After Tom sent that the journalist thanked him and said that he got to the bottom of it. The next day there was a full page article:
I am unsure of what happened after that, but with little evidence it seemed like the Chronicle shut down a normal party thinking it had some involvement with strippers, sex and drugs. Since this article there has been facebook groups flaming The Chronicle, with one person writing an open letter saying :
“…you created a story, littered with sexual allegations, and defaming the name of a school, from facts gathered solely from Facebook.
There was no research, no information. There was no evidence from any figure of authority to say the story was true or false. You collected some posts off Facebook and it made the front page.”
So I guess I am writing this to apologise to Toowoomba State High School for The Chronicle making a story out of nothing, and making it front page news. I am also sorry that your party was shut down. That was not my intention. But fuck it’s a fun newspaper. My friends did a great job here too (actually they did most of the work), and we can’t wait to get more stories in the Toowoomba Paper.
So there you have it. To my mates who helped us send in a text can you please comment below with what you wrote in?
EDIT – I just got this email and thought I should share it with the rest of you.
So, I planned to have a party, every teenager wants to throw a party and my parents were cool with it so I decided to do it. I set up a private facebook event because it was easier, and a few days before my friend said she wanted to bring drugs, and she was joking so we didn’t think twice about it. Then the school contacted her parents and told her that she wanted to bring drugs and we presumed they had a list of the attending, but they didn’t really have any list. Considering that some of the people coming had strict parents I cancelled it, because I can just imagine if a parent gets a phone call saying their son or daughter was at a party with drugs at it, even if there were none.
The last day of school I was called into the principals office, he was really angry and I didn’t have a clue what about and then he mentioned sexual connotations and a sex party and all this stuff and I didn’t know what he was on about. He eventually realised that I didn’t organise a sex party and told me that the chronicle was releasing a story about this “End of Term Sex Party”. If I had organised a sex party specifically for Toowoomba State High School students, then he had grounds to expel me and I totally understand where he was coming from when he was angry. But because I didn’t organise such a thing and I didn’t hear about it till then we ended up chatting and eating cookies.
When I got home, I had an inbox from a friend. Turns out, this friend I used to work with was dating Adam Davies, the guy who wrote the article. Because my privacy settings were Friends of Friends on facebook, he could go on and then linked my party to the “stripping joint”. The concerned mother of the 14 year old from the article was I one of your friends, I presume? Regardless, classic! Anyway, the inbox said to call her and it had her number, so I did, and she told me to delete anything that can be linked to me. Nothing of my identity was on the article which I’m happy about, but they’ve been planning this story for a week before it was printed apparently. Then my mum gets on the phone because Adam was there, and being the awesome chick she was said: “You call yourself a journalist, and you get your facts off facebook?”.
That’s pretty much the end of it, but it’s been bloody awesome! haha, cheers bro
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