Friday, September 28, 2007

Journal-News Library "Victim" Gets Smacked Down By Dozens Of Readers

Online Posters Don't Buy Into Feature Of Woman Who Protests Overdue Book Fine for Dead Mom

At first blush, it reads like one of those juicy human-interest stories: a woman is charged a 50-cent late fee at the library for returning a book checked out by a mom, who died before she could bring it back.
"I was in shock," Elizabeth Schaper told the Journal-News Wednesday. "This has rocked me to my core."
Now, it would be easy to gang up on a seemingly insensitive desk clerk at the library in Harrison, in Westchester County, especially when the library's chief refused to comment on the kerfluffle.
Not so online J-N readers, who've left over seven pages of comments thus far, most of which attack Schaper for being a publicity hound, and for the J-N deeming that this story was news.

"Geez lady, pay the money and go on with your grieving," said one poster. "When my dad died, we paid off his Amex card, do you think we could have skipped out on the bill?"

"I certainly hope this twit reads all these comments from people disgusted by her pity-party pandering."

And those were some of the nicer comments.

To his credit, or maybe he's just a glutton for punishment, local news editor Bob Fredericks chimed in to respond to those who questioned the wisdom of giving this story front-page treatment.
"I figured some people would find it amusing, some outrageous and others sad. In any case, I guessed people would read it and talk about it and that's not a bad thing, I don't think."
Fredericks was resoundingly right on that account. Nonetheless, no matter the desire to spur some water cooler chit-chat, this story straddles a fine line between chronicling one of life's daily outrages or making much ado about absolutely nothing.
One reader points out that in an accompanying video, Schaper notes the book was due before her mother checked out, so it's not as if the fines started ticking during funeral preps.
Another reader turned gumshoe and Googled Schaper's family. Seems they do like their posthumous publicity.
A New York Post story from May told of how Schaper's father -- a decorated World War II veteran with links to the Kennedys -- told her to cancel his subscription to The New York Times if they didn't write an obituary of him. It didn't, and she did. What paper does she now get? Correct.
"He got to love The Post. It was a tradition when he got sick, I would give him the New York Post and he would light up," his daughter said. "He didn't want to admit he read Page Six, but he loved it."
Wonder what he would have thought after reading a story about his daughter's hissy fit over a 50-cent fine.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Schaper said...

Wow, sorry your readers saw it as a desire for publicity! No one saw me going on TV talking about my $1 million plus donation to Greenwich Hospital shortly after my parent's death---a donation in their honor and memory, did they?

There was a reason I allowed the press to cover the story, on top of thinking the fine was ludicrous on the library's part, but I have no desire to let that reason out at this point in time.

Thanks. Elizabeth Schaper