Reporter falls for source with fake juvenile name, other Gannett properties print it

October 21, 2013
Category: Uncategorized

iMediaEthics

Fourteen Gannett properties ran a quote from “Howie Felterbush” about the George Zimmerman verdict, Rhonda Roland Shearer and Sydney Smith report. Most of the outlets deleted the quote. Some, like WTLV and USA Today, updated the story with a note saying “Earlier, this story included a comment from a source whose name could not be verified.”

WTLV executive producer for special projects Anne Schindler told the reporters she interviewed the person, whom she’d noticed not a lot of other reporters were interviewing. “Maybe I need a 7th grader to approve my copy — to pick up on the boner jokes,” she told iMediaEthics. “I missed it.”

Just to be safe, Shearer and Smith searched public records for a person with that name, coming up with a Peter Felterbush in Pennsylvania and a Howie Filterbush in Tennessee. They also compiled a chart of which Gannett properties did what with the quote. “It’s not even that good of a joke,” Schindler told them.