DON’T QUOTE ME, I’M DEAD

by

comment

Plain Dealer reporters have been credited with amazing accomplishments in the past decade, from exposing the former Cuyahoga County sheriff to freeing a Perry County man jailed on a questionable charge. Last Sunday, reporter Joan Mazzolini topped those feats when she used her J-school skills to quote the dead.

Mazzolini showed off her wizardry in an epic, 4,600-word front-page story about the Western Reserve Historical Society. She quoted Bill Laidlaw, whom she described as the “recently retired director of the Ohio Historical Society.”

Laidlaw died August 7, two days before he retired.

Turned out that Laidlaw had given the quote to another PD reporter on July 25, according to a scathing e-mail from PD editor Susan Goldberg to her reporting staff.

In her note, Goldberg warned of the dangers of lifting quotes from other people’s stories without attribution. “Call to see if the person can expand on their previous statement,” Goldberg advised. “Call to see if they’ve changed jobs or retired or changed their minds. Call to see if they’re still alive.”

Ouch. — Damian Guevara

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.