Knight Center
Knight Center


Reporter for Cape Cod Times fabricated sources for dozens of stories

The Cape Cod Times announced the latest fabrication scandal of 2012, this time involving a reporter who invented sources for dozens of stories, the newspaper said in a letter from the editor and publisher. The newspaper said that an audit of Karen Jeffrey’s work was unable to locate 69 people for 34 stories the reporter wrote for the publication since 1998.

“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,” the apology read.

The newspaper said questions arose around a Veterans Day article Jeffrey wrote in which she cited “Ronald Chipman and his family” in the lead. When the editors asked Jeffrey to help them find the family, she declined, saying that she had thrown away her notes, according to the letter from the editor.

The Times’ staff used public-records databases, voter rolls, attempted phone calls and even Facebook to verify the reporter’s missing sources. The newspaper said that the stories with “suspect sourcing were typically lighter fare.”

Poynter congratulated the Times’ handling of the affair, highlighting its decision to take responsibility for the lapse in journalistic standards and its transparency with its readers about the process.

2012 has already seen a handful of fabrication scandals. Paresh Jha of the New Canaan News was fired after the newspaper discovered he fabricated quotes in at least 25 news stories. Jonah Lehrer and Mike Daisey also made up quotes for their work, Poynter noted. Also, CNN suspended journalist Fareed Zakaria after he was caught in an attribution scandal last August.

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