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How do you handle a reporter who’s asking you to create news
so they can report on it?
That was my quandary this week when a freelance writer from
Illinois called me asking for a comment on the upcoming centennial of Grand
Central Station. As volunteer Chairman
of the CT Rail Commuter Council I get all kinds of calls from reporters seeking
my comments, but this was a new one.
“What do you think of the idea of creating a special
celebratory drink to be served on (the railroad’s) bar cars,” she asked.
“I don’t know of any such plans,” I told her, suggesting she
inquire of Metro-North what their beverage plans might be.
“Well, what if they did create a drink? Wouldn’t it be a great way to celebrate the
Grand Central’s 100th anniversary,” she persisted.
“Are you reporting the news or trying to create it?” I
asked. “And what kind of a story are you
“I don’t have an assignment yet,” she admitted. “I’m just looking for a wine and spirits
angle on the Grand Central centennial so I can pitch an editor.”
Gritting my teeth I told her to find out what the facts are
about special bar car drinks and then I might comment. I explained to her that Metro-North bar cars
serve more Fosters 'oil cans' than wine and that there are no white jacketed
bartenders making martinis in silver shakers to then be served in crystal
glasses to commuters.
Now, I’m all for reporters asking for comments on the
news. But when they suggest what the
news should be or even try to create it, I have no patience.