Be Careful Before You Believe A Cute Little Girl
Back in my college newspaper days, I can't honestly say that this wouldn't have happened to us. I'd like to think we would've done our homework and the research needed to verify her story, but it's hard not to believe an innocent looking little girl when she says her father died in Iraq. But, in reality, the little girl was part of a bizzare, elaborate hoax pulled on the campus newspaper by an alumni of the school. The little girl wasn't who she said she was, nor did her "dad" exist. She just thought she was acting as part of a movie.
The newspaper obviously apologized and campus reaction was mixed. The former editor of the paper called himself a bad journalist, but said that he's innocent of the charges that say he was involved in the scheme.
More coverage in the Chicago Tribune, as well as in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Moral of the story for journalists? Always check your sources. Even if it's your mom, always do a background check. Don't believe anything unless you can prove it yourself.