Vinayak Gorur, sous chef

On May 13, 2009 the Ahwatukee Foothills News ran an article about Vinayak Gorur, a local guy who, at the age of 21, had become the youngest ever sous chef at the upscale Compass Restaurant in downtown Phoenix. But a few days ago, the paper ran an apology, admitting that Gorur wasn't really a sous chef at the Compass. Gorur had invented the entire tale. Why isn't clear.

A few things evidently went wrong in the paper's fact checking process. First, they never called the Compass Restaurant to verify Gorur's claim. Instead, the reporter interviewed someone (whose phone number was supplied by Gorur) who claimed to be Gorur's boss. It's not known who this person was.

Second, when the paper asked Gorur if they could take some photos of him at work, he said it was too dark there and convinced them to take photos of him preparing food at home. That should have set off their b.s. alert, but instead the paper agreed to send a photographer to his house.

The reporter, Krystin Wiggs, wrote:

I may be a young and relatively inexperienced reporter, but the other reporters in my office have never come across a scenario quite like this one. Not one reporter in my office could think of a time in their careers when a source had made up such an elaborate hoax and then conned a reporter.

Cranky Media Guy comments: "From personal experience, I can tell you that when you bullshit a reporter who is too lazy to do any fact-checking, it's always described later as an 'elaborate hoax.'"

Identity/Imposters Journalism

Posted on Mon Jul 20, 2009

More content from the Hoax Museum:


Well, really, what reporter or news outfit is going to say they've been taken in by a "simple and obvious" hoax?
Posted by Big Gary  in  Plainview, Texas  on  Mon Jul 20, 2009  at  10:15 PM
Precisely, Gary.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Jul 21, 2009  at  04:34 AM
Seem to me like this is a great way to stuff your resume, ("Experience? Look at this news article").
Posted by mario  in  new joysey  on  Tue Jul 21, 2009  at  08:29 AM
Do these reporters believe that they're saving face by writing a followup article in such a manner where they paint themselves the victim? Seriously, I'm actually wondering if this is the case. Because it only makes me resent them more.
Posted by AqueousBoy  on  Tue Jul 21, 2009  at  09:24 AM
I work for a small, local newspaper, and about a month ago, a local gent supplied incorrect info regarding the drawdown percentage of water taken from a local creek by Marcellus shale formation drilling companies. He also organized a meeting so the locals could vent their spleens. Uh-oh, open mouth, insert foot. He got the numbers wrong, the (new) reprter didn't fact check, and egg was spread liberally on many faces. See link: The editor apologized profusely, and I think the new reporter went bye-bye. Whoops
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Tue Jul 21, 2009  at  04:31 PM
As a retired journalist, I can understand how the young reporter was bambozzled. On the other hand, this was a clear case of editor needed.

Had I been editing the copy, I would have insisted on quotes from the restaurant owner, or manager if it's part of a chain, explaining how this guy was so good in the kitchen.

There's journalism and then there's stenography.
Posted by Father Daniel Beegan  in  Maine  on  Tue Jul 21, 2009  at  09:41 PM
this guy and beccah beushausen sound like a perfect match!
Posted by miss mary mack  in  socal  on  Wed Jul 22, 2009  at  12:52 AM
"There's journalism and then there's stenography."

Unfortunately, there's far too little of the former and WAY too much of the latter these days.

Remind me some time to tell you how I bullshitted the Wall Street Journal last year just because I was bored.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Jul 22, 2009  at  04:45 AM
I'd love to hear your story of conning the Wall Street Journal, Cranky Media Guy.

Now that I'm out of the job, it's fun to hear those stories. I would have been shocked, shocked if I still were a reporter or editor.

Father Daniel
Posted by PackingPadre  on  Wed Jul 22, 2009  at  12:37 PM
Okie-dokie, Father Daniel.

Do a Google search for this:

Postcards From the Hedge:
Faking a Vacation at Home
Cost-Conscious 'Staycationers'
Simulate the Travel Experience;
A Tent in the Living Room
July 16, 2008; Page D1

Wall Street Journal, of course.

I'm the "Bob Porter" mentioned in the story. It should be noted that I do NOT own a "Staycation" business, I don't know anyone who does and I have never been on a "Staycation." Other than that, the story is 100% accurate, I'm sure. wink
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Jul 23, 2009  at  04:42 AM
By the way, that is exactly the kind of thing I was referring to when I said that reporters always say it was an "elaborate hoax" that fooled them. While I've been involved with some very elaborate hoaxes, mostly with Alan Abel, THIS wasn't one of them.

If it turns out to be difficult or impossible to find that story (the WSJ may be behind a pay wall), I'll be happy to post quotes from it.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Jul 23, 2009  at  04:45 AM
I bow to your genius, sir! cool grin
Posted by Roland  on  Sun Jul 26, 2009  at  05:07 PM
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Jul 27, 2009  at  03:19 AM
Clearly a hillariously weak attempt at a hoax which a lazy reporter has fallen for hook, line and sinker!
I wonder how the Compass feels?
Posted by Chef Jobs  on  Thu Jan 14, 2010  at  10:06 AM
Commenting is no longer available in this channel entry.