'Voice' Shelves Editor For Fake Story

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The Village Voice suspended one of its editors after he admitted fabricating material for this week's cover story, a look at "The Secret Society of Pickup Artists."

The weekly alternative newspaper published an editor's note on its Web site Wednesday night announcing the suspension of senior associate editor Nick Sylvester.

In an article about the effect that Neil Strauss's book, "The Game," has had on the singles scene, Sylvester closed with a description of a night in which he and three television writers from Los Angeles tested strategies for picking up women at a Manhattan bar.

"That scene," the Voice wrote, "never happened."

It attached a note from Sylvester, in which he said the account was "a composite of specific anecdotes" shared by two of the alleged participants. One of the people supposedly present, the comedy writer Steve Lookner, was not involved at all, Sylvester acknowledged.

"I deeply regret this misinformation, and I apologize to Lookner for his distress, which I certainly never intended," Sylvester wrote.

Voice Managing Editor Doug Simmons said the paper was still reviewing the accuracy of the rest of the story.

Sylvester, who also writes for the online music magazine Pitchfork, joined the Voice staff in 2005.

Attempts to reach Sylvester were not immediately successful. He did not return an e-mail message sent to him at Pitchfork Media.

Sylvester mostly wrote music reviews for the Voice. His few full-length feature articles included several interviews with characters who told somewhat fantastical stories.

In an August story about cheating on college campuses, Sylvester described interviewing a student who spent $500,000 to have a multiplication table tattooed over his entire body; a Harvard Medical School graduate who cheated with Morse code; a Boston College junior named Simeon Criz who cheated using a specially designed deck of playing cards; and a Manhattan doctor named Noam Feldstein who delivers "a hundred newborn babies each day."

Boston College said it had no record of a student named Simeon Criz. The board that licenses doctors in New York said it had no record of a physician named Noam Feldstein.

Founded in 1955, the Voice covers arts, entertainment and news with an irreverent bent that often stretches the conventions that govern most big-city newspapers. Its staffers have won three Pulitzer Prizes.
  • James Klatell

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