‘NY Times’ Victimized by Prank

By: E&P Editor

It’s bad enough when leading newspapers are given false or misleading information, and have to deal with wildly spinning sources. To be a victim of an outright prank is especially unfortunate, if relatively rare.

Even The New York Times can get hit.

In an editors’ note today — the highest level of the three Times “correction” categories — the newspapers revealed the following.

A report in the Metropolitan Diary column on Monday related a conversation that a contributor, Andrea Silenzi, said she had had with a neighbor on the Upper East Side. The neighbor?s 5-year-old son had overheard his father, a stock trader, on the phone with a client, and had said to his mother, ?I know Daddy sells things at his job, but why oh why did he say he would sell my shorts??

An editor called Ms. Silenzi to verify the authenticity of that anecdote ? a step in the editing process that all submissions undergo before being published. Ms. Silenzi said the incident had indeed happened as she described it.

After a Web log for a Jersey City radio station reported that the anecdote was part of a prank, The Times learned that Ms. Silenzi runs that blog, and that she had invited readers to fabricate an entry for the column. When questioned again, she admitted that she had lied to the editor

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