Who is Ellie Light?
The writer signed the name Ellie Light and sent the letter out by e-mail. What attracted attention was that the letter writer claimed to be from wherever the newspaper happened to be located.
Suspicions started to rise that Ellie Light was a psuedonym used by an "astroturfing" political organization, one that pretends to be grass roots but in actuality is manufacturered by an organized advocacy group.
Big Talker Michael Smerconish may have solved the mystery of Ellie Light.
She turns out to actually be... Ellie Light, a travelling California nurse who wrote a letter and wanted to see it published in as many newspapers as possible. To that end she "misrepresented" where she lived because many newspapers only publish letters from their coverage areas and she correctly believed that if she said was from Philadelphia when submitting her letter to the Philadelphia Daily News it would have a better chance of appearing in print. The same was true for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland and dozens of other papers and cities around the country.
It is hardly surprising that some people would lie to a newspaper to get it to publish their message, which is why newspapers, including which is why we have procedures in place to prevent this sort of thing. But a determined liar can often dupe a newspaper if he or she really wants to.
In her interview with Smerconish, the woman who purported to be Ms. Light, said that, in retrospect, she thought it was wrong to have done what she did. No one, professional journalists included, like to be lied to.
It would seem that if Ms. Light wants to continue her letter-to-editor writing career she will have to do so under an assumed name or stick to her local newspaper.
For more background on the story click here.