Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Reporter lost job over writing stories instead of reporting

It is one thing to write an essay but it is another thing to lie in a newspaper about a story they are supposed to be actually reporting on. A reporter out of Cape Cod has lost her job because all of a sudden the editors discovered dozens of stories written were not true. Some of these involved veterans.
An apology to our readers
By PETER MEYER, Publisher
December 04, 2012

There is an implied contract between a newspaper and its readers. The paper prints the truth. Readers believe that it's true.

It's not always so simple, of course. There are nuances in how a story is presented, what words are used to describe the action. Papers have personalities, and no two are exactly alike, but at the end of the day, facts are facts. And a good newspaper holds nothing more sacred than its role to tell the truth. Always. As fully and as fairly as possible.

This is our guiding principle, so it is with heavy heart that we tell you the Cape Cod Times has broken that trust. An internal review has found that one of our reporters wrote dozens of stories that included one or more sources who do not exist.

The reporter was Karen Jeffrey, 59, a writer for the Cape Cod Times since 1981. In an audit of her work, Times editors have been unable to find 69 people in 34 stories since 1998, when we began archiving stories electronically.

On Tuesday, Jeffrey admitted to fabricating people in some of these articles and giving some others false names. She no longer works for the Cape Cod Times.

We were able to verify sourcing in many stories written by Jeffrey, mostly police and court news, political stories, and recently a series on returning war veterans. The stories with suspect sourcing were typically lighter fare – a story on young voters, a story on getting ready for a hurricane, a story on the Red Sox home opener – where some or all of the people quoted cannot be located.

In 2011, for example, a story on the Fourth of July parade in Cotuit featured Johnson Coggins, 88, “the patriarch of the family” and a longtime Cotuit summer resident. No one by that name can be found using public-records searches and there is no Coggins in the town of Barnstable's assessor's database. We were unable to locate five other people featured in that story.
read more here
linked from Jim Romenesko