Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Monday, June 27, 2005  

More to it than fiction

Last month I noted that Diana Griego Erwin had been fired/resigned at the Sacramento Bee for fraudulent reporting. She was a three times weekly columnist who made up stories that she purported as true.

I was kind to Diana in my blog and hoped that her lapses were only recent and due to recent stresses as she claimed. The Bee has followed up with an investigative report that demonstrates that Griego Erwin deceived the Bee and its readers her entire tenure there and probably received previous accolades and awards for equally fictional reporting that built up her credentials, although the Bee did not investigate her work prior to being at the Bee for inaccuracies.

She is more clearly a Stephen Glass type than a stressed-and-in-a-jam case.

The Bee explains its failure to monitor Griego Erwin's column more closely:

"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."

The detailed descriptions that flowed through the narratives also lent a sense of credibility, he added.

"As an editor, when you get that many details from a writer, you're less likely to question the authenticity," Rodriguez said. "She even described the way the cat's tail was curling."

Another factor came into play. Unlike news stories, columns usually are not illustrated with photographs of the subject. That may change, according to Rodriguez.

One factor which the Bee does not observe is that the subject matter of Erwin's columns was the stuff of liberal pity. Marginalized souls struggling against the awful teeth of bureaucracy, hapless circumstances, and pathetic conditions. She stood up for the saddened but plucky, little gal (usually) up against the System.

As at The New Republic with Glass, her stories were quaint and almost too good to be true in the way they satisfied the prejudices of the staff.

The Bee ought to sue her for defrauding them. She collected a fine wage from them for 12 years by means of deception.

I hope Diana gets proper help, though. Clearly, she's been a liar for a long, long time to everyone who has known her.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 2:13 PM |