Emerald at Oregon Apologizes, Fires Reporter for Faking Interview in Cover Story

The Emerald at the University of Oregon is apologizing and attempting to make amends for some scurrilous reporting that derailed the cover story in its most recent issue.

The piece — localizing the larger issue of fair trade clothing — apparently kicked off with “a fictional account of two University of Oregon students combing through their closets” and also included a made-up quote attributed to a real student. The faux quote from the real student: “Forever 21 is my favorite. I can honestly spend hours mixing and matching from the store’s giant selection and they keep up with the trends really well.”

The student quoted by name saying this called BS, leading to an internal investigation, a confession and immediate remedying.

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Editor-in-chief Sam Stites has written a note of explanation and contrition to readers. The article has been deleted from the Emerald’s digital universe. The reporter’s past work is being vetted for similar red flags. And after being summoned to the newsroom and “confessing to have fabricated the interview,” the reporter has been canned.

But not named. In what is emerging as an intriguing trend within collegemediatopia, Stites does not identify the ex-Emeraldite by name in his note dissecting her deceitfulness. (Although it took me only five seconds to uncover her name via Google.)

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As one critic asks in the comments section beneath the note, “[W]hy aren’t you disclosing the identity of the author in question? You’re very quick to publish the names of students who violate minor party ordinances, in such a way that their names remain searchable for years to come. Why not apply this same transparency to one of your own?”

As I previously posted, the editor-in-chief of The Daily O’Collegian at Oklahoma State University earned some plaudits and barbs last semester after she similarly declined to publicly identify an O’Colly staffer caught fabricating sources.

The EIC Sally Asher told me at the time:

“I want to make it clear that we’re not trying to protect her. If we were trying to protect her we would have gone through the archives online and taken down all the PDFs and made sure we got everything off Twitter and Facebook and everything. People are going to find out who she is regardless. I don’t want to try to stop them from finding out. There are people who are curious and want to know. People are going look her up on Facebook. They’re going to see her in class and know, ‘That’s the girl.’ Others probably don’t care. And for those people I didn’t feel like we needed to push it on them. Public shame makes me uncomfortable.

I’ve reached out to Stites for his thoughts on the Emerald’s non-naming decision. I’ll post an update if and when I hear back.

Related

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

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

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