Monday, April 20, 2009

Newspapers Reconsider Stance On Lying

In an effort to gain back lost ground in the media market, major newspapers are now reconsidering the longstanding practice of telling the truth.

“We can't afford sacred cows in this climate," said Rick Santini, president of the Newspaper Publishers Guild of America. "Not lying is a nice concept on paper and all, but you either adapt, or you die. Charles Darwin himself told me that.”

At last week’s annual Guild conference in Pembroke Pines, Fla., a majority of publishers and editors expressed their willingness to explore lying as an enhancement that could breathe new life into what many see as a dying industry.

For example, on slow news days, celebrities or public figures who have generated juicy headlines before, such as Britney Spears, Eliot Spitzer, Alex Rodriguez or Madonna, could simply be assumed to have done something shocking, ridiculous, distasteful or illegal, resulting in a hypothetical headline, such as “Spitzer, On Steroids, Paid Madonna For Sex While Their Adopted Child Rode Without Seatbelts.”

“If it hasn’t happened yet, it probably will, or some variation of it,” said Paul Winslow, editor of the Minneapolis Dispatch. “The public will eat it up. Mel Gibson, the Octomom, Sarah Palin’s daughter – think of the possibilities.”

Sources said the Guild was to issue a formal policy statement on the lying issue as early as next week, which could pave the way for lies to slowly be phased into news coverage as early as this summer.

“We voted six million to nothing that this was the path to the future,” said one source. “Then we all went out and busted up this terrorist ring before dinner. By the way, Obama loves the idea. So does the Pope. They told me that over dinner at the White House.”

Not on board were the nation’s journalism professors, ethics experts and a panel of clergy who issued a joint statement of concern this week saying that reporters and editors should "steer clear of lying as this is the purview of politicians, corporate CEOs, lawyers and hedge fund managers .”

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