Miracle cure 

A new wrinkle in news

A new wrinkle in news

By Henry Walker

The wrinkle-removing treatment seemed “too good to be true,” the patient said. Newspaper readers must have thought so too, if they believed what they saw in the startling “before” and “after” pictures published March 4 in The Tennessean.

According to the caption, the treatment reduced the patient’s “deep frown lines and some of the forehead lines,” shown in the first picture, to “new smoothness,” as shown in the “after” picture, in only five days.

Pictures may not lie, but captions sometimes do. What the newspaper didn’t say was that the patient in the first picture had been told to flex her eyebrows and forehead to enhance the wrinkles, according to Dr. Deborah Sherman, who supervised the photo session. In the second picture, the patient’s face is relaxed.

The first photo was taken by Tennessean staffer Ricky Rogers in the presence of Sherman and Tennessean reporter Linda Quigley. Quigley’s story, which appeared on the front of the “Living” section, described how Sherman could reduce wrinkles by injecting tiny amounts of a paralyzing drug into the patient’s facial muscles. The process works, Sherman told the Scene, because the drug forces the muscles to relax and “prevents you from scrunching your face.”

To illustrate what happens when people “scrunch” their faces, Sherman told patient Cathy Trivett to crease her eyebrow muscles, producing the deep lines shown in the “before” picture.

The patient’s face “was in a flexed position for demonstrative purposes,” Sherman said. “There was no intent to mislead anyone.” The second photo, however, shows the patient with a completely relaxed face, Sherman said. “If she had been trying to flex, there would at least be some forehead lines,” Sherman explained.

Tennessean editor Frank Sutherland said Quigley and Rogers both declined to be interviewed about the photographs. In a written response to the Scene, Sutherland said the patient “was frowning for the photo to show the depth of her frown lines.” He pointed out that Quigley’s story “explained that this procedure dealt with frown lines.”

But Quigley’s story didn’t explain that the “before” photo was staged to emphasize the patient’s wrinkles, and Sutherland, it seems, has no plans to set the record straight.

Wake week

Tempers got hot during the Banner’s final days, according to this e-mail message from a Banner staffer:

“On Wednesday of Wake Week, [publisher Irby Simpkins] agreed to consider using the old Banner eagle masthead to be used on the final day. On Thursday, he saw a mock-up of that front page with the eagle mast and went nuts. He pulled the executive committee out of a company-wide informational meeting with the state employment people and gathered them in his conference room. There, he accused them all of disloyalty for wanting to use a masthead that ‘stood for the Banner’s racist past.’

“Eddie Jones finally took all he could take and launched into a face-to-face—and long overdue—shouting match with Irby.”

Other sources said the mild-mannered Jones wasn’t shouting, just “talking a little louder than normal” to his boss. Sources also said several staffers congratulated Jones for saying, finally, what they had long been waiting to hear.

Odds and ends

Author Richard McCord seems ubiquitous on the local lecture and talk-show circuit. The author of The Chain Gang, a critical look at the Gannett newspaper empire, spoke to journalism students all over the region last week. He also made speeches, signed books, and appeared on Teddy Bart’s Roundtable.

McCord, who describes himself as “the nation’s leading critic of the nation’s largest newspaper chain,” was invited to Nashville by Scene publisher Albie Del Favero because, Del Favero said, he wants Nashvillians to know about the unethical business tactics utilized by Gannett, corporate owner of The Tennessean.

One place McCord didn’t appear was in the pages of the local daily. The writer said no review of his book has ever appeared in a Gannett-owned newspaper and that Gannett employees typically boycott any speech he makes.

To comment or complain about the media, leave a message for Henry at the Scene (244-7989, ext. 445), or send an e-mail to henry@nashscene.com.

To comment or complain about the media, leave a message for Henry at the Scene (244-7989, ext. 445), or send an e-mail to henry@nashscene.com.


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