Saturday, September 08, 2012


(reading time:  45 seconds)

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 writing anyway?”

“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.


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