Newsweek ‘covers up’ secret zombie invasion headlines

By Ron Brynaert
Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:31 EDT
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Zombies beat multicolored unicorns any day of the week.

At his Twitter account, author/critic Douglas Wolk tweeted on Monday, “Want your day made? Go to newsweek.com and do the Konami code: up up down down left right left right B A enter.”

At The New York Times Media Decoder blog, Derrick Henry writes, “Programmers for Newsweek’s Web site, Newsweek.com, have apparently placed a hidden joke on the magazine’s home page for readers who enter a special keyboard combination, triggering a page of headlines purporting to provide coverage of an uprising by the undead.”

The lead headline, “Zombies Attack!” was followed by a summary informing readers that large portions of the East Coast had been invaded by the undead rising from their graves. Residents were advised to barricade themselves and await further instructions. Other headlines suggested that someone named Patient Zero was to blame for the invasion and that people battling zombies should aim for the head.

Readers were also urged to contribute their reports. “Not everybody reacts the same to the undead,” the site said. “If you, or a loved one, has encountered a zombie please share your experiences.”

“The zombies invaded over the weekend, and you didn’t even know it,” joked Tony Deconinck at AOL News.

Suspicion lies on Mike Robinson, whose name was displayed prominently in the author byline of the page and who is an application developer for Newsweek, but the actual source of the secret code is yet to be revealed.

AOL News spoke with Nick Summers, who first tweeted the surprise last Friday after receiving an e-mail that alerted him to the hidden Easter egg.

“A couple weeks ago, Newsweek relaunched a website redesign, new CMS, a new approach to how we promote our magazine content,” said Summers. “It was a soup-to-nuts relaunch of the site. When you do something that major, it gives an opportunity for someone to sneak in a bit of code.”

An information security blog took a look at the secret code and found it buried in a file of Javascript libraries used by the Newsweek website.

As for those “multicolored unicorns.”

Last year, videogame blog Kotaku reported, “Sports fans with a taste for glittery unicorns should run, not walk, to ESPN.com and remember their Konami Code, because it appears that some soon to be possibly unemployed web designer is having a laugh.”

As a couple of unicorn-loving tipsters with a thirst for sporting news have informed us, inputting the infamous Konami cheat code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, enter) will infest the official ESPN web site with mystical ponies. And they’ll keep spawning if you keep clicking.

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