I like to think I'm a pretty observant consumer of entertainment. When I watch television or movies with friends, I'm one of those people who generally spots a continuity error or something odd going on in the background of a shot. However my accomplishments pale in comparison to the eagle-eyed viewer who recently spotted that TV shows and movies have been using the same prop newspaper in productions for years. Talk about recycling ...
Lest you think he's exaggerating, he's compiled a set of screenshots (see them after the jump) clearly showing that the same paper is being used over and over again. How can this be? The answer isn't quite as amazing as you might imagine.
It turns out the prop papers come from a small company known as The Earl Hays Press located in California. Hays Press has been around since 1915, according to a Brow Beat article on the topic, and they've been printing this specific prop piece since the 1960's. The papers come with a customizable front page, but the inside and back are always exactly the same. The fact that the inside always features a prominent photo of a dark-haired young woman is probably what caught the eye of the guy who discovered this "news" in the first place.
You might be wondering why productions would go to the trouble and expense (each fake paper runs $15) of using fake newspapers when the real things are so readily available -- and the answer is economics. Using a real paper requires getting clearances and potentially paying fees, so it's less headache and money to buy copies of this fake paper instead.
The Earl Hays Press' suddenly very famous paper has turned up on shows like Married with Children and Everybody Hates Chris to films like No Country for Old Men. Quick! Someone start this thing its very own IMDB page!