Fact or Fiction?

Sometimes an event’s report doesn’t match what one personally experiences. Especially when one reads multiple reports on the same event that leave a different impression of what actually occurred. Even more bizarre is when the different reports have the same reporter on the byline.

On Tuesday, June 3, 2008 I attended the Lake Forest City Council meeting to hear the council discuss approval of the Zone Change for the Opportunities Study. More information on the study can be found here: http://www.city-lakeforest.com/opportunitiesstudy/.

The next day, the OC Register Online Edition reported on this in an article titled “Lake Forest land use plan takes ‘historic’ step” (PDF can be found here: 080604-plan-community-sports-205926) as written by Erika I. Ritchie. In my opinion, a fair and balanced report.

As is common for the OC Register, local reporting is repeated in the weekly edition of the Saddleback Valley News. So that Friday, June 6, 2008 I read an article on page 4 titled “Lake Forest land plan aims for unity” (PDF can be found here: 080605-sbvn-p4) also written by Erika I. Ritchie.

I was surprised to find it an edited version of the original. Unfortunately it also appear to me to be slanted in favor of a great vision of uniting the city. Gone were the 6 direct quotes from attendees. What remained was “City officials say this zone change and general plan amendment will provide the missing link and unite the 78,310 resident community.” Paragraph 4 and the last half sentence of paragraph 10 were removed along with Paragraphs 12 through 24.

So, I contacted the reporter about it and Ms. Ritchie, in an email, replied:

“Unfortunately, the printed version was edited down because of space  constraints. I, too, would have liked to see it appear in its original way. SVN will also run the shorter version because of limited space. The original will remain on-line and I would hope people would refer to it for a more in-depth look.

Thank you for your interest”

So, we have a nameless editor shortening an article and giving it a different “spin” based on the remaining text.

I guess fact is what you create when you don’t know it is fiction.


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