AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a senior reporter at the University of Texas at Austin student-run newspaper was fired for fabricating quotes and information in two articles, an internal investigation revealed the problem ran deeper.
Catherine Marfin, The Daily Texan’s managing editor, described the investigation Friday by the staff following Sara Johnson’s dismissal for attributing made-up quotes in two articles in November.
“Our staff has worked diligently over the last two weeks to contact each of these individuals,” Marfin said in The Daily Texan. “In standing by our goal of transparency in our reporting, I’m writing to update our readers on the results of this verification process.”
Other than the two previous retracted articles, both containing misinformation attributed to city of Austin officials, Marfin said the staff found 18 more articles containing fabricated quotes. Of the 60 people contacted who Johnson claimed to be sources of information, at least 30 said they didn’t talk to Johnson at any time. Staff didn’t hear back from every source, Marfin said.
Marfin said the majority of the quotes were attributed to university students, but one was also attributed to a U.S. senator. Five professors and staff members, plus an official from the city of Austin’s Housing Department, also had fabricated quotes attributed to them.
“Our staff is deeply hurt that the verification process revealed this many instances of fabrication within Johnson’s articles,” Marfin said. “On behalf of the Texan, I want to apologize to all of the individuals who fabricated quotes were attributed to.”
Marfin’s initial statement about the incident can be read here.