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Columnist invents 43 people? (Sacramento Bee can't locate many profiled by Diana Griego Erwin)
WorldNetDaily ^ | 6/27/05 | WorldNetDaily

Posted on 06/27/2005 7:01:26 PM PDT by wagglebee

A longtime columnist of the Sacramento Bee who resigned amid controversy last month may have invented the existence of 43 people she wrote about over several years, an internal investigation found.

The paper announced yesterday it had completed a probe into Diana Griego Erwin's writing, stating: "We have been unable to verify the existence of 43 people she named in her columns. This doesn't prove these people don't exist, but despite extensive research we have been unable to find them."

Bee Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez wrote that recent tightening in editorial standards at the paper led to questions about the columnist's writing.

Wrote Rodriguez in a preface to the paper's story on the scandal: "I'm sorry our work with Diana Griego Erwin didn't meet our expectations or yours. Our recent lessons have been painful, but you have my word that we are committed to improving. Nothing means more to us than your trust and readership."

Erwin, whose column ran three times a week in the paper's Metro section, resigned May 11 after failing to substantiate details from several recent columns. She claims she has not fabricated any information.

The apparent creative license appeared to become more prevalent in the last several months. Though Erwin worked for the Bee for 12 years, 30 of the 43 unverifiable people were mentioned in columns between January 2004 and April 2005. Those 30 names occurred in 27 columns of the 171 Erwin wrote during the 16-month period, the Bee reported.

The 30 names could not be found in voter registration rolls, property records, telephone books, identity databases or through scores of phone calls.

Reported the paper: "Many of the columns in question fit a template: essays, often with a surprising O. Henry twist, about a singular person who faces a challenge and surmounts it. Their stories frequently reflect a theme taken from current headlines – wildfires, for example, or prison brutality, school shootings, murderous road rage or a high-profile trial."

One column that ran May 13, 1997, described Victor Budriyev, a Russian immigrant who supposedly lost his sweetheart to the bright lights of Los Angeles. The paper could find no Victor Budriyev in the United States, nor a single citation for "Budriyev" in all of the massive Google search engine.

"These are people we should have been able to find," said Rodriguez. "It kills us that we can't. We still hope they will turn up, but we're presenting the facts as we found them. Obviously, we feel strongly that we should have been able to find these individuals."

Suspicion was raised when the columnist couldn't identify the bar at which she supposedly interviewed a bartender – the day before she was asked about it. Shortly before she resigned, Erwin was asked to provide information about four people she mentioned in recent columns – but to no avail.

The columnist still claims the people in question exist.

Erwin wrote to the Bee in a June 9 e-mail: "The story has been told and I am sad that The Bee continues to pursue this."

She took issue with the continued scrutiny, saying it is undeserved, and then concluded: "Surely there are more important stories out there than another about me. I know there are. Even now, I come across them every day."

At age 25, Erwin worked on a project that won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for public service for the Denver Post and has been the recipient of other national awards as well.

"With a high-profile columnist, especially with the credentials present in this case, it is not first nature or even second nature to ask them if the person they're writing about actually exists," Rodriguez said. "Columnists are given more latitude in their writing style. It's more personalized. They share their voice and their views with the community."

Marv Essary wrote on ChronWatch.com that Erwin's offenses "dwarf those of Jayson Blair," the New York Times reporter who was ousted in 2003 for making up news stories.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bullzogby; dianagriegoerwin; fabricatednews; fabrication; jasonblairsyndrome; jaysonblair; leftistmedia; lyingliar; makeitup; mediabias; propaganda; sacramentobee; zogbyism
I think the press should create a "Dan Rather Award" for the person each year who does the most creative job of making up the news, in time it would be as big a deal as the Pulitzer.
1 posted on 06/27/2005 7:01:28 PM PDT by wagglebee
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To: wagglebee

Just because they were fradulent people doesn't mean the content of what the said isn't accurate.


2 posted on 06/27/2005 7:03:13 PM PDT by Swanks
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To: Swanks

Most of what Jaysun Blair wrote was probably accurate, it was still fabricated though.


3 posted on 06/27/2005 7:04:12 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: wagglebee

"Their stories frequently reflect a theme taken from current headlines – wildfires, for example, or prison brutality, school shootings, murderous road rage or a high-profile trial."


Ripped from the headlines. ;)

She should stick to fiction and stop trying to write NEWS!!
Busted!!


4 posted on 06/27/2005 7:05:31 PM PDT by inlightnd
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To: wagglebee
Erwin wrote to the Bee in a June 9 e-mail: "The story has been told and I am sad that The Bee continues to pursue this." She took issue with the continued scrutiny, saying it is undeserved, and then concluded: "Surely there are more important stories out there than another about me. I know there are. Even now, I come across them every day."

Possible help for Diana would be medicinal marijuana.

5 posted on 06/27/2005 7:09:10 PM PDT by afnamvet (31st Fighter Wing Tuy Hoa AB RVN 68-69 "Return with Honor")
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To: inlightnd

Well, was she a news reporter, or a columnist?

If you're a columnist, is the content of your column supposed to be literally true, or can you just rehash stories some guy told you in a bar?


6 posted on 06/27/2005 7:11:09 PM PDT by proxy_user
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To: wagglebee
There are so many real stories of people that surmount obstacles day after day it should be easy enough to find them and get some bio info. Still it's understandable when a columnists decides to conjur people up out of thin air. Why go out when you can work in. Why take a chance your pulitzer potential story have an unsympathetic twist to it. That can't happen if you control it from start to finish.

Besides, if such people don't really exist, they ought to.

7 posted on 06/27/2005 7:11:30 PM PDT by stevem
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To: inlightnd

Guess we shouldn't believe everything we read.


8 posted on 06/27/2005 7:11:50 PM PDT by moog
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To: stevem
Besides, if such people don't really exist, they ought to.

That's probably what Dan Ratherbiased was thinking about the Bush memos.

9 posted on 06/27/2005 7:16:14 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: proxy_user

If you intentionally fabricate a story without identifying it as fictionalized, that is the height of unethical Journalism. she lead her readers to believe these people existed. If they were in fact HER first hand accounts why not write as such. the MSM and it's minions have gotten away with this slick little trick of lying for to long. Now they are getting outted for the dishonest propagandist they really are.


10 posted on 06/27/2005 7:25:16 PM PDT by marty60
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To: wagglebee
Columnist invents stuff

This is not uncommon nowadays.

11 posted on 06/27/2005 7:25:40 PM PDT by blueberry12
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To: wagglebee

The 43 are probably registered democrats disenfranchised due to some right-wing conspiracy to only allow actual living persons the right to vote.


12 posted on 06/27/2005 7:29:48 PM PDT by Made In The USA (Tell me the SCOTUS was just kidding?!)
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To: wagglebee
That's probably what Dan Ratherbiased was thinking about the Bush memos.

No doubt. Reporting the Rather way is so slick and efficient. All you need is half a dozen or so anti-Republican or extremely liberal story lines. Then you pick them at randon day after day, change the names and dates and run with them.When you get old like Rather, you hate to have work cut into your nap time. Wait, Rather was perfecting this technique decades ago.

13 posted on 06/27/2005 7:33:06 PM PDT by stevem
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To: wagglebee

She was working for me under covers. After the story was published, we executived the people.

14 posted on 06/27/2005 7:34:21 PM PDT by Leo Carpathian (FReeeePeee!)
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To: Made In The USA

Exactly.


15 posted on 06/27/2005 7:35:17 PM PDT by baseballmom
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To: Exit148; kristinn; Jimmy Valentine's brother; Doctor Raoul; BillF; BufordP; Christopher Lincoln; ...

Another graduate from the Dan Rather/Jayson Blair school of journalism


16 posted on 06/27/2005 7:36:37 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: wagglebee

Mike Barnicle had the same problem writing for the Boston Globe.


17 posted on 06/27/2005 7:36:59 PM PDT by Semper Paratus
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To: wagglebee
How much worse is it for the unnamed sources?
18 posted on 06/27/2005 7:42:53 PM PDT by fso301
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To: moog
Guess we shouldn't believe everything we read.

We should only believe a small portion of what we read.

19 posted on 06/27/2005 7:45:33 PM PDT by Edit35
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To: wagglebee

I hear she's about to complete a major work exploring newspaper journalists who are falsely accused of fabricating their stories.


20 posted on 06/27/2005 7:46:11 PM PDT by RavenATB
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To: MojoWire
Guess we shouldn't believe everything we read. We should only believe a small portion of what we read. I don't believe that. :) Just kidding.
21 posted on 06/27/2005 7:48:22 PM PDT by moog
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To: wagglebee
I think this happens more than even we imagine. I think every newspaper should come with a Surgeon General's warning.

Warning: Contents can be harmful to user. In studies they have been shown to cause a loss of perspective and damage one's moral compass.

22 posted on 06/27/2005 7:48:50 PM PDT by pollyannaish
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To: wagglebee

I was getting my taxes done in Burbank today and actually picked up the LA times. It was the first time I picked up an actually newspaper in 3 to 5 years. I thumbed through it and noticed most of the stories I read on free republic within the last 72 hours. Newsprint is dead.


23 posted on 06/27/2005 8:00:04 PM PDT by Walkingfeather
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To: afnamvet
Possible help for Diana would be medicinal marijuana.

I would surmise that was her real source.

When they took the fifth amendment,
I was quiet because I didn't own real estate.
When they took the fourth amendment,
I was quiet because I didn't deal drugs.
When they took the sixth amendment,
I was quiet because I was innocent.
When they took the second amendment,
I was quiet because I didn't own a gun.
Now they've taken the first amendment,
and I can say nothing about it.

24 posted on 06/27/2005 8:09:58 PM PDT by brityank (The more I learn about the Constitution, the more I realise this Government is UNconstitutional.)
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To: wagglebee

She gave an important voice to people who didn't exist. These words that were never spoken by anyone will reverberate down journalism's hall, as we all remember the forlorn nobody who uttered the famous words..."Dan? Is that you?"


25 posted on 06/27/2005 8:16:06 PM PDT by sergeantdave (Marxism has not only failed to promote human freedom, it has failed to produce food)
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To: staytrue
Another "journalist" name to add on your now famous signs.

:-)

26 posted on 06/27/2005 8:34:56 PM PDT by tgslTakoma
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To: sergeantdave

I remember her when she used to write for that litter box liner (AKA The Los Angeles Times.) She used to wax eloquent about the trials and tribulations of the illegal aliens. Its amazing to what lengths a liberal will go to prove their rightousness.


27 posted on 06/27/2005 8:40:31 PM PDT by UglyinLA (WideGlide... Thats too funny.)
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To: wagglebee
From this picture she looks like she will be happier from the podium.
28 posted on 06/27/2005 9:00:49 PM PDT by Old Professer (As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good; innocence is blind.)
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To: wagglebee

Don't forget Stephen Glass, another up-and-coming, flawed liberal journalist, for the formally acclaimed NEW REPUBLIC... They just have no personal ethics or conscience.. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/07/60minutes/main552819.shtml


29 posted on 06/27/2005 9:11:04 PM PDT by carlo3b (http://www.CookingWithCarlo.com)
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To: wagglebee

Don't forget Stephen Glass, another up-and-coming, flawed liberal journalist, for the formally acclaimed NEW REPUBLIC... They just have no personal ethics or conscience.. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/05/07/60minutes/main552819.shtml


30 posted on 06/27/2005 9:12:03 PM PDT by carlo3b (http://www.CookingWithCarlo.com)
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To: carlo3b

Oops.. computer hiccups


31 posted on 06/27/2005 9:13:37 PM PDT by carlo3b (http://www.CookingWithCarlo.com)
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To: stevem
There are so many real stories of people that surmount obstacles day after day it should be easy enough to find them and get some bio info.

That, however, would involve work! -- something modern day journalists are allergic to.

Plus, as you point out, the real story might not be the story the journalist wants to tell...

32 posted on 06/27/2005 9:17:30 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: Walkingfeather
It was the first time I picked up an actually newspaper in 3 to 5 years. I thumbed through it and noticed most of the stories I read on free republic within the last 72 hours. Newsprint is dead.

I was talking with my brother-in-law a few weeks ago and he had just heard some "new" piece of "breaking" news (I wish I could remember what it was) on CNN or something like that, I looked at him and told him I had known about it for almost a week. Look at what happened with Dan Ratherbiased and Memogate, FReepers knew all about it before there was any mention in the media.

33 posted on 06/28/2005 7:03:32 AM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: proxy_user

But the bar should at least exist. Writing about a bartender when the bartender and the bar do not exist is, well, setting the "bar" too low -- even for a liberal rag like the Sacramento Bee.


34 posted on 06/28/2005 7:09:53 AM PDT by daviscupper
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To: proxy_user

A good number of syndicated columnists write opinion pieces. I'd think that would be good enough for the editors without making up scores of fictitious folk to make the articles more exciting.

Maybe what the reporter was churning out wasn't anything to write home about, so she tried to spice it up. ;)


35 posted on 06/28/2005 11:10:03 AM PDT by inlightnd
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To: wagglebee

yeah I know. I find it amazing when someone in Iraq or isreal reports on FR an attack as it is happening. scary and amazing.


36 posted on 06/28/2005 9:18:12 PM PDT by Walkingfeather
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