Longtime Cape Cod Times writer Karen Jeffrey fabricated sources in at least 34 stories

Cape Cod Times
In a review of Cape Cod Times writer Karen Jeffrey’s work going back to 1998, “editors have been unable to find 69 people in 34 stories since 1998,” publisher Peter Meyer and Editor Paul Pronovost write in an extraordinary apology to readers.

Jeffrey “admitted to fabricating people in some of these articles and giving some others false names” and has left the paper, where she’s worked since 1981, they write.

While they found much of her sourcing solid, the stories with bad sourcing “were typically lighter fare,” they write:

a story on young voters, a story on getting ready for a hurricane, a story on the Red Sox home opener – where some or all of the people quoted cannot be located.

Editors at the Times, which is owned by News Corp.’s Dow Jones Local Media Group, began investigating Jeffrey after they couldn’t find the subject of a Nov. 12 story. “When asked if she could help locate the family,” Meyer and Pronovost write, “Jeffrey said she could not because she threw away her notes.”

They went on to uncover “dozens of additional stories with suspect sources.” The paper does not have complete sets of reporters’ clips prior to 1998, according to the apology. The paper will replace Jeffrey’s suspect stories online with notes saying why they’ve been removed.

“This column is our first step toward addressing what we uncovered,” Meyer and Pronovost write.

We needed to share these details, as uncomfortable as they are, because we are more than a private company dealing with a personnel issue – we are a newspaper and we have broken our trust with you. We deeply regret this happened and extend our personal apology to you.

Related: Four things the Cape Cod Times did right in revealing serial fabricator (Craig Silverman/Poynter)

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  • vanchuyen

    I think it’s nice

  • janesoutham

    What’s the News Corp got to do with this? This is about the reporter’s misconduct.

  • Leslie GrubStreetNM

    And what could we call that genre? I have it! How about “fiction?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=788365371 Gerald Grow

    Maybe we need a new genre for column writers: “I made this stuff up, but I think you’ll really, really, really enjoy imagining that it’s real.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/sshemkus Sarah Shemkus

    That’s just lazy, illogical cynicism. Feel free to hate News Corp. as much as you want, but as a former reporter for the Cape Cod Times, I can attest that nothing about Murdoch’s ownership of the paper affected newsroom ethics or our group dedication to getting the facts right. Furthermore, Karen’s fabrications date back to well before News Corp. bought the paper in 2007. I am not defending Karen’s actions here, mind you, but the dozens of reporters and editors I know who would not dream of doing such a thing.

  • http://twitter.com/BonzoDog1 BonzoDog1

    I’m SHOCKED to learn fabrication is going on at a News Corp paper.

  • janesoutham

    Lazy, lazy, lazy reporter.

  • http://twitter.com/realdealneal Neal J. Riley

    Ironically, she RT’d a Poynter article in August that warned “The next fabricator may work for you” https://twitter.com/Poynter/status/230722080935657472