The 187-Word Correction: Fired Wall Street Journal Intern Had ‘Brutal’ Note Added to Yale Daily News Story

The Wall Street Journal summer reporting intern recently fired for fabricating quotes apparently has a history of troubled journalism, including while on the staff of The Yale Daily News.  A new IvyGate report reveals a lengthy, cringe-inducing correction note forced to run in 2009 in the YDN to explain the shortcomings of a story written by then-Yale University freshman Liane Membis.

According to IvyGate’s J.K. Trotter, “The note is brutal.  Membis ‘inaccurately quoted’ a Yale professor (attributing to him statements that do not resemble anything he said, the note makes clear), misdescribed several ‘well-maintained’ greenhouses as ‘rickety,’ and included numerous factual errors in the article.  At 187 words, the article’s correction is the longest the News has published in at least a decade.”

In the wake of a recent Huffington Post decision to remove an article by Membis from its site due to questionable content, the YDN reopened its investigation into possible journalistic misdeeds by Membis during her YDN stint.

Here’s the full correction note run after her 2009 story.  I have to agree with Trotter. In its entirety, fairly brutal:

The story “Supervisors seek to develop, publicize secret garden” contained several errors. First, the photographs accompanying the story did not depict the Marsh Botanic Garden, but rather a School of Forestry & Environmental Studies greenhouse and storage area adjacent to Greeley Memorial Laboratory. Second, the greenhouses should not have been described as “rickety”; the greenhouses are well-maintained, clean and safe to occupants, although administrators would eventually like to replace two aging wood-frame greenhouses. Moreover, the director of the garden, Timothy Nelson, was inaccurately quoted as saying “we want to preserve [the garden’s] history”; more accurately, Nelson said his primary goal in developing the garden is to optimize its use for current education, research and outreach, and as a green space for members of the Yale community to enjoy. The article also incorrectly stated that planned improvements to the garden have been put on hold as a result of the economic downturn; a greenhouse addition is currently under construction at the garden, and Nelson said other projects outlined in a basic planning study are planned for implementation over the next 10 years, pending further planning and approvals.

2 Responses to “The 187-Word Correction: Fired Wall Street Journal Intern Had ‘Brutal’ Note Added to Yale Daily News Story”
  1. rileysnyder says:

    I’m usually pretty forgiving about college journalists, especially freshmen, who make a mistake or attribute something incorrectly. But it really looks like Membis really did purposefully make stuff up, so I have no sympathy for her. What she did is an embarrassment to journalism.

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