And he’s shipping off for boot camp on Tuesday
Photo: Photo Provided/Ben Tierney
The person behind the satirical news posts of the Midland Gazette has unmasked himself.
For over a year, the Midland Gazette has bemused and amused Facebook readers with regular parodic updates on local activities. On Friday evening Ben Tierney of Midland revealed he is the person behind the satirical news posts.
Tierney has been a longtime fan of satirical news outlets, including The Onion and Babylon Bee. In 2019, he decided to put his background in marketing and writing press releases to use in a fun and creative way in his free time. He developed ideas by reading local news sources and scrolling through Reddit; if something sounded interesting, Tierney would have a post on Facebook within half an hour.
He first posted as the Gazette in October 2019, saying the City of Midland was going to tear down the newly refurbished M20 bridge. Over 150 readers commented, some not sure whether the news was legitimate, others thanking the Gazette for a good laugh.
“It’s a struggle, as humor is subjective,” Tierney said.
The range of topics was wide and random, as Tierney touched on subjects including business, infrastructure, entertainment, sports and health. Although he tried to remain neutral on some subjects, including politics and his taste in music, Tierney admitted that sometimes his stance would subtly show.
“Pretty much anything can be worthy of satire,” he said.
One of the challenges writing for the Gazette was not knowing how a particular topic would be received. Last February, Tierney focused on his “irrational dislike” of Garth Brook’s music, and wrote a story about a local man trying to prevent people from attending a concert. The story was picked up by real news and radio outlets and Tierney received several responses from readers believing the story was true.
“For some reason, that took off. I had a pretty good laugh over that one,” Tierney stated.
In addition to providing satire with a local twist, Tierney wanted to support area artists and organizations. He held a contest in August to design an official logo for the Gazette, won by local graphic designer Ian Smith. Stickers with the logo are available for sale through the Gazette’s Facebook page, with half of the proceeds going to an organization of Tierney’s choosing.
Now the time has come for Tierney to explore a slightly different career path. One of his longtime goals has been to join the military, but the opportunity to do so wasn’t readily available in the past. When the pandemic shut down Tierney’s hopes to start his own business, he got to talking with Army National Guard recruiter Sgt. Thomas Peeler and agreed to join.
“He really helped me realize it was an opportunity I could still do and still work in Midland. I’m excited about it,” Tierney stated.
With the prospect of being gone for five months for basic training without access to social media, Tierney believed that his family and friends would eventually realize that he was behind the Midland Gazette; he had already let a select few in on the secret of his identity. His suspicions were confirmed a couple weeks ago when a cashier at one of the gas stations Tierney frequents asked if he ran the Gazette. On Friday night Tierney created a farewell post, officially revealing his identity.
Tierney has enjoyed the freedom of posting parodies on local happenings and the diverse reactions from readers; he plans to resume posting once he returns from basic training. He explained he has plans in the works to partner with local artists to use the platform to promote them and sell their work. Eventually, the Gazette will continue to support local satire, artists and businesses.
“Every community could use a little bit of laughter. I’m glad to be a part of that and all the support I’ve received,” Tierney said.