Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Chronicle Online - Journey to the Bayou (Fake Citizen Journalists Deliver The Goods)

The Chronicle Online - Journey to the Bayou: "Duke sophomore Sonny Byrd is used to driving his friends around in his car. But last Thursday, Byrd said his roommate Hans Buder, also a sophomore, needed no ordinary lift.

Buder wanted a ride to New Orleans - a ride that would total 3,200 miles over four days and take the boys through parts of the United States devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

It was a trip the roommates, along with friend David Hankla, also a sophomore, said took more than time. It took extreme measures - they said they posed as journalists - to get them to their goal: New Orleans and the hurricane victims stranded in the city.

Remembering the victims they had seen on TV, the boys said they decided to drive to New Orleans.

“We wanted to do something tangible. There were still people trapped, and we knew that we [could] take people to safety,” Buder said.

But the trio said a military blockade was preventing people from driving into the city. Knowing that press officials were allowed to pass, however, Byrd said he came up with the idea of pretending to be members of a media organization to gain access. “I walked back into the news station and found a press pass, so I just yanked it off the desk,” Byrd said.

He added that he swiped an official news station shirt as well.

“For $11.68 at Kinko’s, we made press passes and business cards,” Hankla said.

After making the drive to New Orleans, Hankla explained that the National Guard was turning away car after car in front of them at the military checkpoint at the entrance to I-10—the freeway that leads into the city.

When it was their turn to show identification, the boys said they held up their Kinko’s press passes to the guard and waited.

To their surprise, the trio said, the guard waved them past. “‘Can you believe that?’” Buder recalled them asking each other." (More)

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