Student News Staff Uncovers ‘Very Own Stephen Glass’; This Time, They Name Him

Last week, editors at The Volante discovered what they fear are made-up sources appearing in a series of stories produced by the same staffer.

As a note to readers published yesterday in the University of South Dakota student newspaper shared, “Over the course of nine months, reporter and former assistant news editor Joey Sevin wrote six articles with as many as 10 student sources who have yet to be verified for their existence. … Volante staff used the Office of the Registrar, the USD website directory, officials from Student Life and various Google searches to check the names.”

The staff said sayonara to Sevin after the initial names’ check. According to the editor’s note, he denies any form of fabrication. Yet, in many ways, the names — and the lack of proof showing they belong to anyone alive and enrolled at USD — speak the loudest.

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It’s always fascinating to me how fabricators decide on fictional names — and how far they’ll go to make them seem just normal enough (but not too normal!). Below are the noms de plume that, at this point, are not checking out in Sevin’s stories:

Morgan Alderman

Kirsten Attoms

Erica Debuq

Daniel Durnham

Hannah Fourare

Timothy Greene

Jake Holk

Danielle Rochester

Thomas Sollerfield

Rachel Sterne

In the note to readers, editor-in-chief Megan Card candidly confirms the editorial staff is to blame for failing to more quickly catch Sevin, who one Volante alum tweeted is the paper’s “very own Stephen Glass.” Card: “After two years of employment, there was an established trust with this reporter. We had our guard down in editing this former staff member’s work, and allowed these unverified sources to be published.”

A review of the newsroom fact-checking process is apparently underway, along with revisions to Sevin’s questionable articles.

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Given recent events in collegemediatopia, the most interesting aspect of this mini-major scandal is the paper’s decision to name the perpetrator. As I’ve previously posted, so far this semester, The Daily O’Collegian at Oklahoma State University and The Criterion at Colorado Mesa University both declined to reveal the names of former staffers determined to be plagiarizing and fabricating like whoa.

So why out Sevin? According to Card, “As someone who holds her staff to the expectations held in any professional, independent organization, I chose to disclose his name to maintain our transparency of the situation and to allow our readers to understand that we, as reporters, hold ourselves to the same, if not higher, standards of accountability for the work we knowingly publish.”

Related

Student Editor Fired for Plagiarizing for a Year from More Than 20 Sources

‘Public Shame Makes Me Uncomfortable’: O’Colly Editor at OK State Explains Why She Decided to Not Print Lying Reporter’s Name

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