Clay Felker: “I removed it because it disrupted the story’s narrative.”

From Harrison Smith’s Gail Sheehy obit in the Washington Post:

Ms. Sheehy’s coverage of Times Square prostitution — reported as she dressed in hot pants and go-go boots, keeping her tape recorder out of sight in a fanny pack — was cited when New York won a National Magazine Award for reporting excellence in 1973, and led Newsweek to dub her “the hooker’s Boswell.”

But it also drew criticism after it was revealed that one of Ms. Sheehy’s most compelling subjects, a prostitute named Redpants, was a composite character, stitched together from numerous women whom Ms. Sheehy had interviewed for the story. Felker later said that Ms. Sheehy had explained her composite technique early in the story but that he removed the admission because it disrupted the story’s narrative.

The episode was sometimes cited by critics who accused Ms. Sheehy of being loose with the facts, even as they acknowledged her talent at anticipating social trends. . . .

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