Freep speak

May 18, 2005 at 12:00 am

Well, the results of the big Free Press investigation into the work of star columnist and mis-assumer Mitch Albom are finally in. We can all breathe easy, because, as the front-page headline Monday assured, there is “no pattern of deception” in Mitch’s vast body of work. News Hits is thrilled, but, as usual, a bit confused. If not deception, what word do you use to describe some of the things Albom was found to have done over the years? For example, what is it when someone writes about a football game in a way that leads readers to believe he was at the actual game when, in fact, he watched it on TV just like the average schmo? Poetic license, maybe, which is fine for poets, but is kind of frowned upon in journalism. And what do you call it when someone lifts quotes from other media sources without disclosing that fact, making it appear as if the work is his own? Oh well, no one’s perfect. Besides, he’s a columnist, and they apparently play by special rules. And when those lifted quotes are, as if by magic, seemingly “livelier” than the originals? In the business, that’s called quote-doctoring, which most papers tend to discourage. Whatever you call it, to the Freep’s editors it is not deception. And their word is good enough for us.

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