Karen Jeffrey, who has worked at the Cape Cod Times since 1981, fabricated sources in dozens of stories over the years, according to the paper’s editor and publisher. “In an audit of her work, Times editors have been unable to find 69 people in 34 stories since 1998, when we began archiving stories electronically,” says the execs’ apology to readers. (There were problems with at least 36 of Jayson Blair’s stories a decade ago, the New York Times reported in 2003.)
An investigation into the 59-year-old reporter’s work was launched after editors questioned her Veterans Day story, which featured “Ronald Chipman and his family” in the lead.
“The editors were unable to find the Chipman family,” write publisher Peter Meyer and editor Paul Pronovost. “When asked if she could help locate the family, Jeffrey said she could not because she threw away her notes.”
The Times explanation/apology continues:
A story a month earlier featured four people we could not find. Then another story with unfound sources. Then another. In our initial examination, going back to Aug. 1, 2011, we were unable to find 15 sources in six stories.
An expanded review of Jeffrey’s work uncovered dozens of additional stories with suspect sources. We spot-checked work prior to 1998, when we relied on paper clips for archives, but have not found any questionable sourcing. We do not have a full archive of each reporter’s clips prior to 1998.
Jeffrey admits fabricating people in her stories, says the paper, and is no longer at the Times.