Monday, September 08, 2003

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published an editorial Aug. 20 about a Vermont educator who had sex with a teacher's aide in school.

That information, the Pittsburgh City Paper points out, is true. What's not true is the paper's reporting that the sex took place on the teacher's desktop, that he cautioned the aide "to not scream in pleasure," that an NEA spokeswoman said, "Having an affair with a white female is not a disqualification," or that the teacher in question is black.

So where did the Tribune-Review get this information? From a doctored news story that is the only quoted source for the editorial.

The fact that the paper got it wrong is disturbing. But this is downright wrong: The editorial writer didn't even accurately quote the doctored news source correctly because it was obvious some things were factually inaccurate.

Here's the doctored story's quote: "Having sex with a white female student is not a disqualification."

But the writer knew it wasn't a student at issue. It was a teacher's aide. So here's the quote that ran: "Having sex with a white female is not a disqualification." Not even an ellispis.

The City Paper says the Tribune-Review ran a correction (I can't find it online, and the paper took the editorial offline) that "barely acknowledges a fabrication took place, noting only that 'erroneous information came from a correct Vermont Press Bureau story that had been changed by a third party and redistributed.' "

I wonder if the editorial department has a copy editor or has resorted to having writers read one another's works as other papers have.


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