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)

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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