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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

THE CRAYFISH

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Helping the community bond over obese cat, satirical articles

There is a new Web site that residents of Shreveport and Bossier are eating up faster than fresh-out-of-the-fryer Southern Maid donuts, and it was started on a whim.

The Crayfish or crayfishnews.com is a satirical news Web site founded by Dax La Cray. But this isn’t really his name; instead it is a pseudonym because he wishes to remain anonymous.

“One of the reasons we use pseudonyms is because I worry that if we write about local government and people know who the writer is, they may want to know what their political position is,” La Cray said. “So long as we have control to remain anonymous, I’d like to keep it like that.”

And even without knowing the man behind the curtain, readers are still attracted to the content The Crayfish is shelving out. La Cray started making posts on Facebook in March, and after some encouragement from readers, he decided to create the Web site.

The idea started when La Cray and his wife saw people arguing on community Facebook pages. That’s when he decided it was time someone spread some humor around.

“There was a lot of negativity, so we kind of wanted to do something that would lighten the mood a little bit — to not be so serious all the time.”

At The Crayfish, they cover hard-hitting news. You can tell by reading headlines like, “Darcy the Obese Black Cat Voted Shreveport’s Favorite, Best Cat” or “Southern Maid and Thrifty Liquor Partner to Develop Alcoholic Donuts — Thrifty Liquornuts.” The site is dishing out the savviest satire with a focus on local interest.

La Cray had no journalism experience and very little writing experience when he created The Crayfish. He had written reports, but this greatly differs from what he writes now. He says he did get a lot of inspiration from satirical sites like The Onion.

“I wasn’t trying to pass it off as, ‘This is a real thing, and I’m trying to trick you.’ But I also didn’t want it to look cheap.”

La Cray wanted the site to look professional, but had a very limited skill set when it came to Web site building. So he did what any other average Joe would do — he paid someone to do it for him. He believes making the site look good will encourage others to share articles.

“They [readers] can show it to them and not have to say, ‘Sorry, it looks like crap.’” The hard work seems to have paid off because readers are sharing The Crayfish’s articles like crazy. The Facebook page has already accrued 2,041 likes. La Cray says some articles have gotten up to 25,000 views. All of this comes as a surprise to him.

“To be honest, I’m just some dude. I only have like 200 friends on Facebook. It was exciting and depressing when the Facebook page [The Crayfish] had more followers and likes than my personal Facebook page.”

With so much limelight, La Cray wanted to benefit the community. He noticed a rugby team practicing in his neighborhood and told them to send in photos and results from their games and The Crayfish would publish it on their site, although it isn’t satire.

“If we are going to get a little shine, we might as well pass some to them. I think it’s cool that people from our community are out there playing.”

Somehow, even if it was unintentional, La Cray started to adapt the habits of a local journalist. He stresses the importance of publishing timely articles.

“Some [articles] are going to be funny all the time, and some you have to be quick; like, if it’s a news event, you don’t want it to fade away from people’s memory. It can be really hard and challenging at times.”

Despite the minor challenges The Crayfish has faced, it’s still nice to see members of the community bonding over something, even if it is an article about an obese cat.

“People need a place to get away from all the super-serious political stuff. What’s kind of neat is, if you read our comments, those people on there are a diverse group of people, and they are all agreeing.”

As of right now, The Crayfish is not taking money from any advertisers. Instead, La Cray has created a Patreon account, where readers can donate money if they like the content on the site.

“I don’t want them to feel like we are blackmailing them for content. I’m probably a horrible business man, but we are just sort of go-with-the-flow.”

At the end of the day, La Cray just hopes readers are entertained. If they can make a point on political stuff or social commentary, then that’s great, too.

“I do envision it as something that we can all be proud of,” La Cray said. “We make jokes and riff on Shreveport, but at the end of the day, we all kind of love it.”

–Jessica Carr

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