On Tuesday, 25 August 1835, New York newsboys were shouting out a sensational headline for everyone to hear: “Life discovered on the moon! Forests, lakes, animals and even men-like creatures observed by British scientists!”
It was the day when tabloid newspaper The New York Sun began publishing a fictional account of lunar discoveries supposedly made by Sir John Herschel. The narrative, which continued over six days, listed a series of amazing astronomical breakthroughs and revealed one stunning achievement in detail: The discovery of life on the moon. Because nobody could proof the opposite in 1835, the articles caused enormous excitement throughout New York and were republished in the whole U.S. and even in Europe.
Since for the first time in history a media story reached and fascinated such a wide audience at the same time, the moon hoax is considered to be the first mass media event — and the first truly sensational demonstration of the power of mass media to create a truth in its own right.