Satirical news surge: Meet the man behind ‘The Kitsap Report’

Josh Farley writes:

The recipe for cooking up fake news stories in Kitsap County is simple, Calvin Courter says. Look for a trending topic on the Internet, find a way to give it a local twist, and sit back and watch it spread around the Internet like wildfire.

“We just wanted to provide a funny source of news,” said Courter, a 29-year-old Poulsbo resident who founded The Kitsap Report, a satirical news web site. “We wanted to lighten the mood around here.”

The Report, which boasts itself as being “Kitsap’s #1 source for news” has produced such eyeball-grabbing headlines as “Naughty Drive-through Marijuana Store Opening in Gorst,” “Bridge from Bainbridge to West Seattle Approved,” and “Walking Dead Season 5 to be Filmed in West Bremerton,” in its initial weeks of publication. (Blogger’s note: not all content posted on the site is family friendly.)

Because this is the Internet, where all content is accurate until proven phony, here is your official SPOILER ALERT: None of those stories are true. (No, really. They’re not.)

Courter said he’s not surprised that readers have mistaken his headlines for the real thing (he’s even heard from a Seattle-based reporter who thought they were legit). He said he hadn’t meant to trick people, but rather to spice things up.

“I like living here, but it’s a little boring,” he said.

He goes by Tom Tickles on the web site, a Kitsap lifelong resident “born in a pool of gasoline and raised by a pack of rabid raccoons in the woods outside of a small farming village.”

Courter and the Kitsap Sun have crossed paths before. He worked as an advertising account executive here in 2012. Today, he counts mortgage lending as his day job.

The site took off faster than he expected. After its launch Jan. 2, he went out to the Portside Pub in Poulsbo. By the time he returned home, the site’s first article, “Twerking: Serious Problem at Kitsap School,” had accumulated 6,000 page views.

The article today is up to almost 70,000 views.

Not bad for someone who’s never taken a journalism class (he adds that he failed junior year English). But this is a guy who knows his news: he’s been reading the Kitsap Sun since he was a kid and grew up watching Almost Live! He is and will always be a news junkie, he said.

Courter got tired of the barrage of posts he’d see on social media sites containing falsehoods, and so he decided to create some falsehoods for himself. But don’t go calling the Kitsap Report a local version of The Onion.

“I think the future of satirical news is local,” he said, adding later: “You’ll never see a Kitsap article on the Onion.”

He welcomes contributions, and he’s looking to expand into the video medium.

“We’ll see where it goes,” he said. “But people of Kitsap can look forward to more and more news from us.”

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