Nameless: Industry Standard

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Good Morning America and ABC News ran a story about a mother, “Kerry Campbell” who gives her 8-year old daughter botox injections for beauty pageants. The mom gives a fake name and the news reports it without mentioning its a pseudonym.

We now know its a pseudonym now because of a Child Protective Services investigation. Apparently, many viewers decided Child Protective Services needed to be called and figured ABC wouldn’t call. The woman featured in the story now disavows it and claims that a reporter (for The Sun, which first broke the story) coached her into fabricating fiction.

The media folks deny foisting falsehood but they have fouled: whether or not the substance of the story has substance the name reported (by Good Morning, ABC News, BBC News, Yahoo News, Fox News, Huffington Post…) is not the subject’s real name.

When news outlets pay big money for stories perhaps they don’t have much left in the budget to do investigative journalism. That said I get carded for less than appearing on the news. I figure that if ABC was, as I believe they were, going to write a $10,000 check for pictures of someone injecting her daughter with botox then they would know who they were giving it to.

On second thought, “ABC News said the network did not compensate Upton [real name] for the GMA appearance but did pay a $10,000 licensing fee to a British broker, Claire Stephens, for the Botox injection pictures.” Is this industry standard? Does the news routinely pay third parties for stories and not pry into details like the subject’s name?

It must have occured to ABC that someone might not want to use their real name on a real/fake story about giving their 8 year old daughter botox injections for a beauty pageant. That might help explain the practice of selling stories to a third party broker. Looks like false names are industry standard. Watch as ABC reports the false name with authority; no “names have been changed”, no softener, no distancer.

Bonus fun: The Sun, the paper that first broke “Kerry Campbell’s” story continues to use her fake name on May 22, days after her false identity was discovered by Child Protective Services. The article though isn’t about Kerry – its a plug for the columnist’s book, “Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank.”

If I wrote a book of that title, I wouldn’t put my real name on it.

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2 Responses to Nameless: Industry Standard

  1. JohnJ says:

    They’re not about to let facts get in the way of a good story.

  2. The industry does, most certainly, pay for things like this– for exclusivity. When you see exclusive photos of Tom and Kate’s wedding, or exclusive pics of Paris Hilton’s DUI arrest, yes, they were paid. If a celebrity knows that the candid pics are going to get out anyway, they will negotiate a deal to one outlet (e.g. TMZ) for a specified period (30 days) and just hand over the stuff.

    Similarly, sex tapes. No one’s sex tape is released without their consent. They may not have wanted it out, but if they see that it may get out anyway, they’re going to cash in.

    GMA’s mistake was licensing the botox pics and then refusing to pay. They’re saying that since the pics are staged, they shouldn’t have to pay. Was this a bad faith transaction? If GMA was a news organization they wouldn’t be paying for exclusivity; and if it’s a media/human interest outlet, a story is a story and now the story is that’s it’s fake. Pay up, and enjoy your Nielsen ratings.