June 7, 2017

The (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) Argus Leader on Wednesday announced that it had retracted 11 articles after a review of a former summer intern’s work found quotes and other information that could not be verified.

The Argus Leader did not name the intern whose work it retracted. A notice published by the paper last week announced the retraction of a story about a memorial tree planting at a local elementary school after identifying multiple quotes attributed to a school principal who wasn’t interviewed by the newspaper. Allie Knofczynski is listed as the author of that story.

News of the retraction was first reported by iMediaEthics.

In its notice, The Argus Leader said the decision to retract the articles was made after completing a review of the original author’s work. Cory Myers, The Argus Leader’s news director, declined to elaborate on the retraction notice but said that the responsible person is no longer working with the newspaper.

Although Knofczynski is not listed on The Argus Leader’s staff page, a Twitter user by the name of Allie Knofczynski describes herself as a student at the University of South Dakota in the nearby town of Vermillion. According to her Twitter bio, she’s the opinion editor at The Volante, the student-run newspaper at the University of South Dakota.

Ally Krupinsky, the editor in chief of The Volante, declined to comment on Knofczynski’s status at the newspaper. Knofczynski is listed as the author of dozens of articles for The Volante, the last of which is dated May 1.

In a post on her personal blog titled “A new path” published two days ago, Knofczynski recounted being fired from her internship after making “a mistake in the name of the person I’m quoting.”

On a morning where I was literally driving from one location to another to write multiple stories, along with stumbling a couple of new great ideas, I’m asked to come back to the office, where I’m essentially cornered and right there fired. No second chances. Apparently not for a young learning intern trying to get experience. Nope. I was the scapegoat in a collateral mess over a little tree story.

In her post, Knofczynski recalls apologizing directly to the principal quoted in her article, whom she says regarded the incident as “a learning experience.” Another post about her internship, posted in mid-May, is tagged “Argus Leader.”

An email to an address listed at Knofczynski’s portfolio website wasn’t returned. She didn’t respond to a voicemail.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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