Wall Street Journal intern fired for fabricating sources

Talking Biz News | The Wall Street Journal
Liane Membis’ internship with The Wall Street Journal is at an end, an editor’s note on an article she wrote says:

“Bridging a Local Divide,” published online on June 17, has been removed from the Journal’s web sites. Many of the names contained in the article about the re-opening of the 103rd Street Pedestrian Bridge in Manhattan were fabricated by reporting intern Liane Membis, and the quotes couldn’t be independently verified. Ms. Membis is no longer working at The Wall Street Journal.

Membis’ article is still available on Talking Biz News. Some of the people Membis claimed to interview in the piece: Katrina Maple, 64; Saniqua Dimson, 17; Shaila Tompkins, 26 and pushing a baby stroller; Carolyn Turner, 31 and carrying “two pink five-pound hand weights”; Jonqueil Stevens, 40.

The Wall Street Journal sends a statement:

Liane Membis was an intern for the Journal for less than three weeks and wrote or contributed to five published pieces – one of which has been removed from our online archives and two of which have been edited to remove quotes that were provided by the intern and that cannot be confirmed. Notes detailing the actions taken have been placed at the original URLs. Ms. Membis is no longer working at The Wall Street Journal.

The two other pieces with editor’s notes are “Space Shuttle Floats Into Its Manhattan Home” by Membis, published June 6, and “Stop, Frisk in Spotlight” by Pervaiz Shallwani, published June 10.

Membis tweeted about “Bridging a Local Divide” appearing in the paper:

Tuesday afternoon, Membis deactivated her Twitter account. A page about Membis, who wrote for the Yale Daily News before graduating from the school, says she’s “A Scrabble enthusiast, accidental beauty queen, and community-building fiend,” as well as the reigning Miss Black America Connecticut and will represent the state in this year’s Miss Black America pageant.

Membis accumulated 42 bylines at the Yale Daily News between 2008 and 2010. Reached by telephone, Yale Daily News Editor Max de La Bruyère said he had not heard of the controversy involving Membis and that his time at the paper didn’t overlap with hers, but he would begin fact-checking her pieces immediately. “Given that news we’ll definitely have to go back and look at everything that she wrote and check as best we can,” De la Bruyère said. He has since posted a note to readers saying the same.

Membis has written for The New Journal at Yale (that story was syndicated by The Huffington Post) and CNN.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • Anonymous

    How did Liberette Magazine rip you off? That was a media outlet, and you’re a lingerie store.

  • http://twitter.com/davelucas Dave Lucas
  • Anonymous

    What’s done as SOP at your local county bird-cage liner, and at an American standard like the WSJ, are two entirely different things. At the Journal, readers expect every story to be one of some significant importance.

    Moreover, this simply further underwrites the journalism ole saw: “Don’t believe anything your read, and only half of what you see!”

  • Anonymous

    Because interns in the journalism world is a summer job. They get paid like a reporter and are expected to perform like a reporter. Granted they don’t get sent out on big stories, but smaller stories and features. The point is for them to learn to go out and get experience reporting for a daily newspaper and also gain important contacts that can become a source later on.

    They do shadow seasoned reporters on big important stories though.

  • Anonymous

    Hello,To add to our previous post. We established our online sexy clothing shop http://www.liberette.com in 2005. Liberette stands for being a Free-Woman who wears, thinks and does what ever she wants,Our customers and models often call themselves “Liberette’s”.These two central ideas have been stolen by Liane Membis and her http://www.liberettemag.comTo any true Liberette it certainly does not matter what colour of your skin is, hence “Love Sees No Colour”.It was bad enough having our concept ripped off by Liane Membis, but what really hurts is that it has basically been ripped off by a light fingered, politically correct, box ticking racist.Thank YouLibbyxThe LiberetteLiberette Glamour Fashions

  • Anonymous

    Hello,
    We are http://www.liberette.com from Great Britain (established 2005), and this box ticking politically correct racist ripped us right off… LOVE SEES NO COLOUR…and there is no liberette liberty dividing people by race, what century is she from.

  • Anonymous

    Hello,
    We are liberette.com based in the UK from 2005 to the present day and this person with this so called liberette.mag has tried to rip us off.
    In our mind LOVE SEES NO COLOUR, and a true liberette is totally free and does not give a dam about politically correct box tickers!
    Thank You.

  • Anonymous

    First – Why? would a major news entity like the WSJ allow an “intern” to be published without first being vetted by a ride-along journalist & a fact checker.

    Second – Is this incidence simply collateral damage from downsizing (a.k.a. “staff streamlining”) creating a reporting environment where fewer do more, with less?

    None the less, the credibility of the Journal has been harmed, as will be anything this former intern touches for years to come…

  • http://www.hiredotnetdeveloperindia.com/hire-dot-net-developer.php .Net Developer India

     Very nice article. I got something interesting information about WJ over here. thanks for this article.

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Hi, Jennifer. On her bio page (now removed), Liane Membis says she is “the founder and editorial/creative
    director behind Liberette Magazine.” –Julie Moos, Director of Poynter Online

  • http://twitter.com/JennCurington Jennifer Curington

    There is an online publication called Liberette Magazine and the site’s Twitter account says it was created by @limembo:twitter . Even though Liane Membis deactivated her personal account by that name, it could indicate she is involved heavily with that magazine.