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Village Voice writer invents character, quotes her extensively

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Small Town Guy, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    Good times for the Village Voice. They lose two of their most respected longtime writers and now a young one gets busted for Blair-Glass type works. Yankee Fan mentioned this in the other Voice thread but it's so ridiculous figured it warranted another thread.

    Rob Sgobbo, who works (worked) for the Daily News, wrote a freelance piece for the Voice about for-profit colleges. Had a great character in the story named "Tamicka Bourges, who claimed she had amassed a large debt at Berkeley College without obtaining a degree."

    Except Tamicka doesn't exist.


    The usual befuddlement over these stories:
    * In the World of Google, who thinks they can get away with this anymore, especially at a big paper?
    * In a world where so many great writers are now working in PR, as teachers or, worst of all, attending law school, how in the hell does this guy blow this type of opportunity?

    So does Sgobbo go the Glass or Blair route from here. In other words, when he explains himself, does he do it through a horrible novel or a pathetic memoir?
  2. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    It will be interesting to see the responses within the industry and among BLOGGERS! about this.

    Some might it's not a big deal, that it was part of a story and no one got hurt. Standards for spelling and fact-checking seem to be diminishing daily with this tweet-blog generation. Others will say he's part of a Glass-Blair situation and should be cast into the flames.

    Personally, I want the second option. There's no place in journalism for someone of his ilk.
  3. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Well, I certainly don't see any point in making up a person in a newspaper story if you're NOT going to quote them extensively.
  4. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Gawker managed to find a pic where Sgobbo looks like a douche.
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I can understand how some writers are tempted to make up man-in-the-street quotes reacting harmlessly to some topic or other.

    But making up a person who has a large debt and no degree from a college?

    Doesn't it cross your mind that the college looks bad in that story and might have one person -- or several -- on staff who might be spurred to look up that person and then would be motivated to call your editor if that person is fictional?
  6. clintrichardson

    clintrichardson Active Member

    To me this detail of his fabrication is particularly startling: His made-up person is described as a student of a real person who is quoted earlier in the story—and he has the made-up person talking about a conversation he had with the real person, a teacher in New York.

    So clearly the real teacher in New York was going to read this Villiage Voice article and know that the reporter was making stuff up. This feels like the recklessness of someone who wants to get caught.
  7. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Hey, Tamicka Bourges was my imaginary fiance in 2006.
  8. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

    Prediction: Tip of the iceberg. Folks are going to find a whole bunch of fabrications now, when they look back at his older stories.
  9. britwrit

    britwrit Well-Known Member

    Wow. Small world. She was my girlfriend back when I was a freshman in high school. Unfortunately, she lived in the Niagara Falls area and we weren't able to see each other that much.
  10. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

  11. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member


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