Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Strangling a Cat? Prank at California Daily Costs an Editor's Job

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Strangling a Cat? Prank at California Daily Costs an Editor's Job

Article excerpt

It is the kind of internal prank many newsroom staffers have pulled in the past: changing the wording of a story, headline or caption, but without the intention that it run in the paper. Such a change at the North County Times of Escondido, Calif., however, got into the paper and resulted in one editor being fired and another getting suspended.

According to a correction by Editor Kent Davy that ran today, the paper published an Associated Press story on Wednesday about a new Los Angeles law requiring most pet owners to spay or neuter their pets.

But, somewhere along the line, a staffer changed a reference to a councilman's appearance at a related news conference where he "held" a kitten. The North County Times version said he "strangled" the kitten.

"We published a story Wednesday that contained a terrible mistake," Davy's correction began, then later added, "...two of our editors inserted an error into the account that fundamentally mischaracterized a press conference attended by Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas, one of the law's co-authors. …

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