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  • How Much do Journalists Earn, Anyway?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on August 26th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Florida Cracker and With Cheese brings us the story of a college newspaper that was the victim of an anti-war hoax.

    For two years the paper published letters supposedly written by a little girl whose father was serving in Iraq. Some of the letters were also addressed to President Bush, taking him to task for invading Iraq in the first place. The only problem is that the father didnt exist and the little girl was an imposter. It took so long for the hoax to be uncovered because none of the papers staff thought to confirm anything.

    Three thoughts occurred to me while I read this news account of the whole sorry mess.

    The first is that the professors tasked with teaching the students the ins and outs of the business really dropped the ball. I mean, cmon! They were running this kids letters for two freakin years and no one thought to pick up the phone on their desk and give the Army a call?

    The second thing that sprang to mind is that Im in the wrong business. Being a journalist cant be that tough if the simplest of cons takes them in so easily. (coughRathergatecough) If anyone reading this post happens to work for a newspaper and is hiring, give me a call. I used to work in law enforcement so its extremely doubtful that Id be as gullible as people who spend all that money over all those years going to J school in order to earn a degree, but Im certainly willing to stick my head in the sand and turn my brain off if the paycheck is big enough.

    Lastly, Im really glad that this didnt happen at The Chronicle, the newspaper at the University of Chicago. After all, we have a reputation to protect around here.

    Post Script
    One last thing. The woman who was behind the hoax says that it was a scheme cooked up between her and Michael Brenner, the former student reporter who first wrote about the little girl. Brenner denies all of it, saying that “I’m an idiot, not a con-artist.” He voices concern that this incident will hurt his budding career in journalism.

    Well, shouldn’t it?

    If he’s as stupid as he claims then no editor worth his salt will ever trust him to get the facts because he might be taken in the next time someone lies to his face. If he’s actually a scheming oppurtunist then no editor should give him a job for fear of harming the newspaper’s reputation if Brenner should ever again decide to manufacture another story.

    I think Brenner should take a serious look at that entry level position they have in the mail room.


    7 Responses to “How Much do Journalists Earn, Anyway?”

    1. ed in texas Says:

      The only conclusion I can draw is that the media don’t care if it’s correct or not, as long as it supports whatever viewpoint they’ve decided to push.
      And they don’t understand why people keep saying that they’re biased. (I mean, like, … this is Important)

    2. Mitch Says:

      Cheese & crackers? Really?

    3. James R. Rummel Says:

      Cheese & crackers? Really?

      I had the same reaction. But yep, it’s really true.


    4. Steve Says:

      Having short-sheeted his “budding career in journalism” let me suggest that Brenner should immediately apply for a leadership job at the DNC.

      He has demonstrated all the necessary virtues: he can manufacture false media movements, and he can artfully deny his fraud after being found out (“I’m an idiot, not a con-artist”).

      I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word “not” is not.

    5. Don Says:

      Another fine example of Janet Cooke [Jimmy’s World]reporting.

    6. Ginny Says:

      The Fake & the Dead” at Mudville Gazette has some more details, not ones favorable to the professional jounalists at AP, who theoretically have their training wheels off.

    7. Shannon Love Says:

      Exploiting peoples prejudices is always the easiest way to con them. For example, when white people fabricate a crime they almost always portray the imaginary criminal as a person of color because they hope to exploit racial prejudices. Fake hate-crimes appeal to the same prejudices running in the opposite direction.

      The fact that the media has repeatedly fallen for hoaxes directed against the Right reveals the medias own Leftwing bias. Just as an economic con artist relies on peoples desire to make money overwhelming their common sense, the media hoaxer relies on media’s desire to screw over non-Leftist to overwhelm their professional incredulity. If the media did not have the prejudices they did they would not fall for such hoaxes.