The Sun and the Moon
In August of 1835, The New York Daily Sun , edited by Benjamin Day, began running a series of articles about the discovery of life on the moon.
The articles, written by Sun journalist Richard Adams Locke, claimed that a well-known British astronomer, John Herschel, had made the discoveries with his powerful telescope. (4)
Each installment of the series fascinated readers with descriptions of the moon's landscape, strange critters and furry, winged bat men. New Yorkers couldn't get enough of the story, and the Sun's circulation skyrocketed.
The series was so popular that many rival newspapers began printing it. But when a journalist from the Journal of Commerce asked the Sun's for permission to print the series in a pamphlet, Locke finally confessed that the whole thing was a hoax.(4)
Locke claimed that he wrote the moon series as a political commentary piece, and that the moon and its creatures were symbols of the current social climate. Audiences seemed to believe him because the Sun's circulation continued to soar even after the hoax was exposed.(4)