Newspaper Column Group Defends Author David Sedaris

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By: E&P Staff

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) released a statement today defending author/humorist David Sedaris.

Last month, The New Republic magazine did a story saying that some things in Sedaris’ work aren’t strictly true.

In its statement, the NSNC said it “takes issue with accusations of unethical journalistic conduct” by Sedaris and added that “those of us who write humor columns for newspapers shrink in a collective wince. Who among us hasn’t had to explain the words ‘satire’ or ‘exaggeration for comic effect’ to literal-minded readers. …”

The statement — sent to E&P by NSNC Vice President Samantha Bennett, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist — further noted: “Humor columnists on newspapers wink as broadly as possible at the reader to telegraph that we are not reporting, and that some statements are exaggerated or made up for the sake of the joke. Some readers still don’t get it, but we try.

“The National Society of Newspaper Columnists embraces journalistic accuracy and verification standards for reported material … [b]ut David Sedaris is not a journalist. He doesn’t claim to be one. He has admitted many times that his stories are better than accurate while insisting they are fundamentally truthful. There’s a continuum there that has no place in journalism but is vital to literature.”

And the NSNC concluded: “Most readers can distinguish between a column and a news report, but there will always be some who miss the signs. Sedaris isn’t a liar; he’s merely been mislabeled.”

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