Against dishonesty

in journalism

Trying to pass off fiction as fact

This stupid trick has caused several newspaper journalists to lose their jobs in recent years. The most tempting way to do it follows this example:

You have reported a news story. You need a reaction quote about the new cement plant in the town of Newberry. You know you should have talked to a citizen at the public meeting you attended, but you didn't. So you put this in your story:

"This area needs the jobs, but the environment questions do bother me," said Maria Henderson, a resident of Newberry.

But there is no Maria Henderson. You made her up. You are a liar and a cheat.

By doing this, you have betrayed the trust of your readers. People come to journalists for the truth, and all of journalism is damaged each time a sleazy reporter pulls this trick.