Greg Mitchell, the editor of the influential news trade publication Editor and Publisher has recently raised a spirited defense
against questions and allegations that news may have been staged in
some instances in the recent Israeli/Hezbollah war in Lebanon, may
sound particularly defensive because of his own guilty history of staging news:
Since the press seems to be in full-disclosure mode these days, I want
to finally come clean. Back when I worked for the Niagara Falls (N.Y.)
Gazette (now the Niagara Gazette), our city editor asked me to find out
what tourists thought about an amazing local event: Engineers had
literally "turned off" the famous cataracts, diverting water so they
could shore up the crumbling rock face. Were visitors disappointed to
find a trickle rather than a roar? Or thrilled about witnessing this
I never found out. Oh, I went down to the falls, all right, but
when I got there, I discovered that I just could not wander up to
strangers (even dorky ones wearing funny hats and knee socks) and ask
them for their personal opinions, however innocuous. It was a puffball
assignment, but that wasn't why I rebelled. I just could not bring
myself to do it.
So I sat on a park bench and scribbled out a few fake notes and then
went back to the office and wrote my fake story, no doubt quoting
someone like Jane Smith from Seattle, honeymooning with her husband
Oscar, saying something like, "Gosh, I never knew there was so much
rock under there!"
Of course, I got away with it.
Somehow, Greg, I don't think that you did.
Cross-posted at Confederate Yankee.