When first I read that Michelle Delio, a prolific freelance for _Wired News,_ had been caught making up sources, I felt a twinge of sympathy, as anyone would who has had stories fact-checked and legalled to death. But the “report”:http://a1112.g.akamai.net/7/1112/492/2002091469/www.wired.com/news/penenberg_report.pdf of the journalism professor who looked into this suggests something a lot worse than sloppiness.
The best example was “this”:http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,63280,00.html heartwarming story which has a magnificent opening which, according to _Wired News_ %(sane) “features a family [professor] Penenberg was unable to contact.” %
Apart from that, the anecdote is just perfect:
bq.. Last Sunday, Maria DelGiorno gave up. She unplugged her laptop PC and carefully placed it underneath a statue of the Virgin Mary.
“It was the only thing I could think of doing,” said the 67-year-old great-grandmother. “The computer was filled with filthy things. It was embarrassing. My grandchildren kept asking me why I was looking at so much pornography.”
On Tuesday, DelGiorno’s grandson retrieved the computer and examined it. With some help from a computer-savvy friend, Joe DelGiorno discovered that a browser-hijacking program called CoolWebSearch, also known as CWS, had turned his grandmother’s mild-mannered computer into a XXX-rated adventure.
“She had dozens of bookmarks for really foul porn sites,” said Joe DelGiorno. “And ads for porn were popping up every few minutes. Her homepage had been switched to some weird Web page. She was all upset and crying; she’s a religious woman. She shouldn’t have to deal with this garbage. If I find the people who did this to her I will make them suffer.”
p. Placed it under a statue of the Virgin Mary!
This may explain why WN has suddenly sent an email msg to all its freelancers to the effect that copy now must include contact information for all sources quoted in the copy.
omg. indeed god is graceful. that one has resisted.
Makes it rather difficult if the sources have requested anonymity, as some of mine have for stories I’ve done (eg one for The Register about blog spammers).
“Hello? Wired News here. Are you the Deep Throat that a Mr Woodward met in an underground car park? Hello?”