March 21, 2013

The Crimson White |

Journalism freshman Madison Roberts “fabricated sources in several news stories dating back to Jan. 10 of this year” in University of Alabama student paper The Crimson White, the paper says. The reporter “quoted nearly 30 students, none of whom could be found in the UA student directory or on social media,” the paper’s report said.

“I was overwhelmed and succumbed to a lot of pressure I’d been under,” Roberts told the paper in an email. The paper’s copy editors discovered her fabrications while fact-checking names earlier this month; a subsequent review of Roberts’ work turned up more bogus sources. Roberts “has been removed from the paper’s staff,” the paper says.

“It is hard to tell how long or to what depth this one rogue reporter’s actions will tarnish our image, our credibility and our integrity,” Crimson White Editor-in-Chief Will Tucker writes in a follow-up piece. “But The Crimson White will carry on.” He adds:

We have also determined that an April Fool’s Day paper, a tradition of the past few years, is entirely inappropriate in light of this discovery. The April 1 paper, for the past few years, has used fabricated sources to create satire and jokes about topical campus issues. has added editor’s notes to its blog posts that linked to stories by Roberts, like this one about parking permit fees.

“This report is a summary of a Crimson White story that was later found to have included fabricated sources,” one note reads.

The CW reported on March 20 that one of its reporters quoted nearly 30 students who could not be found in the UA student directory or on social media by CW editors. The CW has removed those stories from its website.

Related: College Media Association president ‘unconvinced’ students are plagiarizing, fabricating more than in the past | 10 ways to prevent plagiarism, fabrication at college newspapers (and in any newsroom)

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

More News

Back to News


Comments are closed.