Friday, January 8, 2010

Libeled by the South Philly Review

Note: Read the update to this post as well.

Never, ever take it for granted that anything you read in the newspaper or see on TV news is the truth. My few appearances in local media have contained misquotes, lies and blatant libel that would get a ninth grader kicked off the school paper.

A few days ago while running some errands a harried-looking guy with a notepad stopped me near Broad & Snyder. He said he was writing a weekly man-on-the-street column for the South Philly Review. Would I like to participate? Thinking the question might be something civic-minded, I assented.

This is pretty much how the 'interview' went down.

Him: "Our question this week is How are you coping with the cold weather?"

Me: "Oh, not doing much different... I guess I'm staying indoors."

Him: "Staying indoors? OK... uh... Are you drinking anything special to stay warm?"

Me: "Uh not really... I guess beer [laughing]. I convert the excess calories and sugars of the beer into energy. How's that?"

Him: "uhhhh..."

His pen isn't working. He can't write anything down, which is a bad position for a reporter to be in. I let him borrow my pen, as the South Philly Review apparently doesn't have a two-pens-per-reporter budget. That's more a New York Times kinda high-roller, la-dee-da thing.

Scribble, scribble. He thanks me, snaps a photo of me and asks for my name, the paper will be out Thursday.

I just checked the website, and
this is the result. Note that there's no mention of the fact that Mr. Greg Bezanis specifcally asked if I were drinking anything special to stay warm, they're just purporting that I was asked how I was coping with the bitter cold weather, and according to the paper I just said I liked to stay home and get plastered. Note that there are quote marks around a phrase I didn't speak. Note that I said beer and Bezanis wrote down "alcohol." Note that I made a specific reference to calorie intake and Bezanis turned this into a "warm sensation." So I'm not providing a quick (semi-)humorous quip to a pointed question any longer, I'm just a random alcoholic.

I'm sending a letter for publication to the paper and referencing this blog post, which will be amended with an appropriate publication and/or retraction. It really makes you wonder how the paper reports more important stories.

Death of the newspaper industry? Can't come fast enough. I'll be a pallbearer.

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