Hearst fires reporter for serial fabrication in at least 25 stories
Paresh Jha, an award-winning reporter for Hearst Newspapers' New Canaan News in Connecticut, has been fired for fabricating sources and quotes in at least 25 stories over the nearly two years he worked at the weekly.
The paper announced his firing in a report published on its website just before 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
"We have found 25 stories written by Paresh Jha over the last year and a half that contain quotes from nonexistent sources," said David McCumber, editorial director of the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.
He went on to say, "When confronted, Jha admitted that he had fabricated the names and the quotes."
McCumber apologized to readers for the "gross violation of our standards." The story about Jha is currently the most read item on the site, despite being published late on a Friday.
The paper has removed the offending content from its website, but did not provide a list of the stories, or any additional details about the nature of the offenses or types of reports affected. I've emailed McCumber for more details and will update with any response.
He writes in the note to readers that Jha's fabrication was first uncovered when editors attempted to fact check "unusually spelled names" in Jha's reporting.
Teri Buhl, a freelance investigative journalist and former reporter for Hearst's Greenwich Time who was fired by McCumber two years ago amid controversial circumstances, writes on her website that she identified at least one Jha story that has been removed from the site.
"His editors are still fact checking his stories to see if they find additional made up quotes or sourcing on top of the 25 they reported last night," Buhl reported on Saturday. "They haven’t told readers which quotes were made up yet."
One story that hasn't been removed from the site is the New Canaan News' report trumpeting Jha's two recent wins at the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists Awards in May.
Not that I'm saying they should remove it.
Rather, the paper should add editor's notes at the top of all affected copy to explain that they contain fabricated material, with details about what was fabricated. Simply scrubbing the offending articles prevents readers from being able to see which stories were affected by Jha's lies.