July 23, 1998
The State Journal-Register
Attn: Barry Locher
One Copley Plaza
P.O. Box 219
Springfield, IL 62705-0219
I am writing this letter because I am concerned about the way Greta Alexander was portrayed in the article concerning her death (July 18). At the same time, I am not sending it for publication because I do not want to be viewed as speaking ill of the dead or having a vendetta against Alexander.
Simply put, I do not believe Scott Hilyard’s article lived up to the standard of journalism I am used to seeing from the State Journal-Register when it comes to these types of matters. It was very one-sided and ignored all skeptical information. I realize that Mr. Hilyard does not work for you, and that this was a Copley News Service article, but I also know that your paper can make changes in such articles, or choose to run something different altogether (indeed, this is exactly what happened when Alexander claimed to have led police to a kidnapped and murdered boy a couple years ago – reporters from your paper edited the AP article’s mention of Alexander and added a separate article quoting skeptical sources).
While I would not have expected to see a full article criticizing a well-known woman who had just died, I also did not expect an article extolling her supposed powers as if they were an accepted fact. Alexander’s claims have been examined by a number of people (including a full chapter in the book, Psychic Sleuths) and have been found lacking. Even when police officers present testimonials to her great abilities, an objective study has found that the claims simply didn’t add up.
There was one part of the article that Hilyard got right – "She was no slouch at self-promotion." Indeed, I have openly admired her ability to promote herself. While Hilyard did not realize it, when he stated that she did the police work for free, he was talking about that very self-promotion. She did it for free – and for free advertising. When she scored a "hit," she made sure the media knew it – sometimes calling up the local TV stations to have them come interview her.
But now she has passed away. So why am I bothering to write this letter? Because I want to emphasize to you that while Alexander is gone, there are many others like her. They will make claims. They will call up reporters and the police. They will promote themselves. And I hope the State Journal-Register exercises the proper skepticism I am accustomed to seeing from you rather than another article like Mr. Hilyard’s.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
David Bloomberg, Chairman
Association of Lincoln Land