Step 1: Come up with story idea, say, about how small businesses are being hurt due to the NBA lockout.
Step 2: Reach out to Twitter followers, ask them to corroborate said story.
Step 3: Wait.
Step 4: Practice asking Kate Upton to be your Valentine. [“Will you, Kaaa” voice cracks. “Will you, Kate Upton…” No, that’s stupid. “Kate I would be most honored if you..”]
Step 5: Daydream about how you and “Katie” will tell your families you eloped.
Step 6: Marvel at your good fortune when a guy, who in real life is a bored teenager but over the internet seems like a legit businessman, emails you to say that he runs an escort service in New York, “mostly for away team players after games but some Knicks and Nets too; they are high rollers and I’m not getting the constant business I that I need to stay running.”
Step 7: Double fist pump the air and shout “Yes, D-Rove, you got this! Pulitzer 2012 baby!”
Step 8: Breathe, tell yourself to calm down and reel it in.
Step 9: Put on your reporter hat and ask “Henry James” some questions like, “How much money would you say you’re losing? What cut do you then get? What is the cheapest woman and what is the most expensive woman? I assume it’s by the hour and what is the typical # of hours?”
Step 10: Make no attempt to verify source is who he says he is, that his business exists, that you’re not being taken for a ride.
Step 11: Cut, print.
Update: Darren Rovell is sorry. (“He duped me. Shame on me. I apologize to my readers. As a result I will do fewer stories on the real life impact of big events which I do think the public enjoys. There will always be people out there who want their 15 minutes of fame and not really care how they get there.”)
How A Teenager With A Fake Escort Service Duped Darren Rovell And CNBC [Deadspin]
An Apology To My Readers [CNBC]
Related: SI Swimsuit Model Doesn’t Have To Worry About Things Getting Weird With CNBC Reporter Because He’s Known Her Since She Was 17