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Dealing with fakers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    So has anyone had to deal with people claiming to be reporters and all they are really doing is saying that to get a credential?

    Just today, two more names popped up in my work inbox of people claiming to work for my company so they can get credentials.

    We also have a case of a woman showing up at various city and state government pressers claiming to work for my paper.

    I have no idea who any of these people are.
  2. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    It happens a lot and has for years.

    At my first paper, we had a prep stringer who was credentialed for all four of the local professional teams. I assumed he was stringing for someone. A couple years in, one of the PR guys asked me what he did for us. I said, "He freelances preps for us. I assumed he was freelancing for one of the other papers." and I was told he was credentialed through our paper and to his knowledge had never written a story. We had prep writers who helped out on other beats, but this guy wasn't one of them. He never ran quotes or did anything.

    It kind of became a running joke among the writers. None of us really wanted to get involved and turn the guy in. He was quiet and didn't bother anybody. I don't know when he started doing it, but as far as I know he lost his credential when a local team made it to the championship and the PR guy called the SE and said, "We're really sorry, but we don't have the room to credential this guy."

    I was told the story when I ran into a former co-worker at the NCAAs. We just sat there and laughed our asses off. The estimate was that the guy got away with it for 12-15 years.
  3. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    We had a guy who was laid off, but still using his ID badge (a de facto credential around town) to get into things. He used it to get into a street festival. One of the organizers knew who he was and called our ME. He was also using a credential from one of the state colleges (he'd gone to write for a web site covering them when he was laid off) and saying he was scouting for them or some such. Never saw him doing it, just heard a lot of stories over a span of several months.
    If you don't catch them yourselves, there's much you can do except let everyone on your beats know they don't work for you. Once I found out that guy was still using our IDs, that's what I did. I didn't want to make life difficult for him in an already rough time, but I also didn't need him doing something stupid and ruining relationships I've worked for years to build.
  4. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Haven't run across that, but had one guy call and offer to write a story for us about the last game at the old Yankee Stadium. Said no thanks, I've got AP for that. Then he asked if I could get him a press pass for that last game. I said no, and he had the nerve to ask why not? Well, if he's not doing a story for us, I explained, I asked why we should get him a credential ... then hung up.
  5. Preacher Roe

    Preacher Roe New Member

    We had a weird situation once where our reporter covering a beat had the same first name as the reporter handling the same beat for the other paper. And it was a beat where there was not a lot of in-field coverage, so a lot of the interaction with sources was over the phone.

    Anyway, we came to learn that the other shop's reporter would claim they were our reporter from time to time when out covering events. No one could figure out why, considering this reporter was employed by a reputable news outlet as well, but it was what it was. The faking reporter eventually got shifted to the desk and then was let go.
  6. Flip Wilson

    Flip Wilson Well-Known Member

    When our college team played the in-state rival for our only big game of the year, lots of folks tried to get credentials. I got one request via fax -- remember that? -- and something about it seemed sketchy. I called the paper this guy claimed to be working for, and when I mentioned his name to the SE, the SE said, "What did he do now?" Turns out he had run this scam before.

    I didn't let the guy know that I wasn't going to give him a credential, but I left an envelope for him at will-call, and inside was a very professional note telling him if he would like to watch the game that night, he was more than welcome to purchase a ticket. I never heard anything from him again.
  7. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    I've got a guy who is starting a "freelance photography" business in the area, and he's called me on several occasions in the past year asking to get credentials so he can build up his portfolio. Thus far, he's requested credentials to the ACC football championship, the Masters and the New York Yankees' spring training.

    I haven't called him back yet.
  8. I'd pay good money to have seen the look on his face when we got that letter.
  9. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    My first year at my old place I started covering college hoops and wondered why there was a guy with a credential from our sister paper considering he didn't work there. He was a local coach who the former editor used to get a pass for. I stopped that real quick - told the SID he wasn't with us. Didn't see him again.
    We also had a guy we used as a freelancer for our preps and local coverage. He was great, but ethics were a bit iffy. I later found out his son-in-law - who worked at our sister paper - was getting him credentials at a PGA Tour event solely so he could play in the media day event. I was none too happy about that.
  10. Bud_Bundy

    Bud_Bundy Active Member

    We fired a guy in the pre-internet era for the combination of incompetence and being a generally bad human being. Now he would start his own website, but back then he created a fictional "news service" so he could get into prep games. Turns out he was using an old one of our IDs to get in, but once word got around, nobody at any of the stadiums would let him in without paying. He was none too happy and actually called our SE (the guy who fired him) to complain.

    Had another guy badger our SE (a different SE) for a credential for our local LPGA tournament. SE said no, our staff was handling our coverage. He cornered me as the tournament and bitched that he could write rings around anybody on our staff (which included at least three APSE winners). We did use him for as a freelancer for one Friday night HS FB game that fall ... he never reported the quarter scores as we asked. didn't answer his cell phone when we repeatedly called him and he never filed anything until noon the next day. His excuse? He didn't think it was proper to answer his phone in the press box. After the game, he was cold and hungry, so he decided to drive home (a 45-minute drive) and fell asleep once he got there. Thus endeth his brief freelance career for us.
  11. So, about a decade ago, a new SE at a Deep South paper sent a credential request to The Masters. Paper had never covered it, but new boss figured they should. A few weeks later, he gets a letter that basically says, 'Hey, you're already got 2 credentials, and you've had them for the last five years.' Turned out, the former publisher had made the request and just gave the media passes to two of his buddies.
  12. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

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