August 27, 2006

Before and After

A bit of three years after-the-fact editing in a 2003 Greg Mitchell editorial at Editor & Publisher got quite a bit of attention in the blogosphere yesterday.

For those you now just coming to this story, Mitchell wrote a May, 20, 2003 article in which he admitted to faking a news story as a young reporter. Jon Ham tipped me off to the existence of the article, which led me to write this post opining that perhaps Mitchell wrote his sympathetic and spirited defenses of photojournalists accused of staging photographs precisely because he, too, had an admitted history as a fraudulent journalist.

My post, complete with a link to Mitchell's 2003 editorial, went "live" early Friday afternoon, complete with quotes pulled from Mitchell's article.

Many blogs linked the story quickly starting at 1:56 PM, and by 4:00 PM, no fewer than five other blogs had copied sections of text, including the opening paragraph. By 5:00 PM, in the course of an hour, the long-dormant story reappeared, rewritten to emphasize Mitchell's youth and inexperience.

As Mary Katharine Ham noted:

This is just so phenomenally stupid. CY rounded up all the blogs that excerpted the original article, and he has the link to the original article from the Wayback Machine. It's all there, for everyone to see. All of the incredible dishonesty. If it was pathetic to fake a story about tourists at Niagara, it's downright embarrassing to alter the confession after a couple people bring attention to it.

Stephen Spriuell, writing at National Review Online's Media Blog, says this represents journalistic malpractice, and if true, calls Mitchell's professional ethics into question.

And so as the work week begins again tomorrow, I suspect we're going to learn some lessons not only about Mitchell, but about the company Mitchell works for, VNU Business Media, and it's President and CEO, Michael Marchesano. Marchesano's site states that, "VNU Business Media takes pride in being one of the most prestigious and respected business information companies in the world."

I have no reason to doubt that, and at this point on a Sunday morning, would be quite surprised if Mr. Marchesano even knew about the potential damage to his company's reputation committed by "someone" trying to mitigate the damage to the reputation of someone who is already a self-admitted fraud.

VNU Business Media claims "45 market-leading trade magazines, 17 directories, 70 events and conferences, 65 trade shows and 165 eMedia products." We will learn tomorrow how willing they are to defend their credibility, and how transparently they choose to respond to what is a flagrant and well-documented cases of dishonesty by someone on their editorial staff. This case is easily proven by an internal audit showing precisely who updated the May 20, 2003 article between 4:00PM and 5:00 PM (Eastern) this past Friday afternoon.

The actual investigation should take less than an hour, but how VNU Business Media, Editor & Publisher, and Greg Mitchell choose to respond may affect them all for a long time to come.

Update: It might not be VNU Business Media that looks into Mitchell's apparent transgressions, but VNU eMedia, who can be contacted here. If you choose to write VNU, please respectfully ask for a review of the changes to the article, and explain who you think it warrants a review.

Update: Dan Riehl establishes that Mitchell seems to have lied about other elements of this story as well. Riehl argues Mitchell was neither nineteen, nor an intern, but 21-year-old professional journalist when he committed his first journalistic fraud. It seems Greg Mitchell has a pattern of behavior that should call his entire body of work into question.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 27, 2006 10:40 AM | TrackBack

I'm betting E&P "responds" with silence. They are that smug.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at August 27, 2006 05:27 PM

Linked from Old War Dogs.

Posted by: Bill Faith at August 27, 2006 07:24 PM

So someone in the MSM gets caught making things up.

And this is news ?

Posted by: Actual at August 27, 2006 07:41 PM


Read Hamm's piece. Excellent research on your part. Idiocy like this is rarely reported in the main-stream, however, for obvious reasons.

Buuuuuuuuut....if only to get the word out, we should take a lesson from the Left.....

Somebody out there can probably show personal duress from said false stories. They should sue the hell out of said media, and we as conservatives should back them.

Until that happens, we will never show just how biased, and in some cases traitorous the main stream really is.


Posted by: paul at August 28, 2006 03:35 AM

So let me get this straight, CY and others are up in arms about an editorial written 3 years ago that had 8 words added to it (nothing removed) about something that happened to the editor 27 years before that.

Where can I get in line for the mandatory efigy burning and storming of the E&P building?

Posted by: matt a at August 28, 2006 10:04 AM