Alabama Crimson White Reporter Fired After Months of Making Up Sources & Quotes

A staff reporter for The Crimson White at the University of Alabama fabricated numerous sources and quotes on roughly a dozen stories she wrote for the student newspaper this semester.  A few of the stories last month by the “deliberately deceitful reporter” literally contain only made-up sources.

In an article on yesterday’s front page announcing the deception, CW staff shared they first determined something was amiss last week due to a simple spell check.

A portion of the piece: “[The reporter] created names, years, and majors for the sources.  The fabrications were discovered when, on March 13, [the reporter] turned in two stories to editors for which she had fabricated every source, including a professor. The paper’s copy editors, while fact-checking the correct spelling of one of the fabricated students’ names, discovered that no such student existed.  The news editors then checked UA directories for all of the sources in the stories.  Top editors were notified, and [the reporter] was contacted immediately.”

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The reporter, a UA freshman journalism major, has been fired from the CW.  She publicly addressed her wrongdoing, admitting in an email to the paper, “I made a mistake.  I own up to that and am accepting the consequences, but I did not mean to hurt anyone. I knew it could affect the CW as a whole, and I apologize to those I hurt.”

Along with the front-page recounting of the reporter’s misdeeds and the staff’s response, an editor’s note from EIC Will Tucker offered an apology on the paper’s behalf.  (Note: I’ve met Tucker and consider him a fantastic journalist.)

Near the end of the note, Tucker also announced the paper would not run its annual April Fools’ Day edition– which typically features fabricated news stories and sources– after staff judged it to be “entirely inappropriate in light of this discovery.”

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Tucker: “This week, the leaders of The Crimson White have hung our heads in grief because we know we have presented you with deceit disguised by a reporter as truth. We will accept your submitted columns, your phone calls, your emails, your comments and your tweets, and present them back to the community. As we do that, The Crimson White will carry on.  We are, and I am, very deeply sorry.”

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