USA Today pulls 23 stories after investigation finds sources faked by reporter

After an internal investigation found the author of the stories misattributed comments and, in some cases, falsified interviews and sources, USA Today pulled 23 news stories from its website Thursday. Gabriela Miranda, a last-minute reporter who left the publication a few weeks ago, allegedly tapped falsified sources. Ironically, USA Today is Facebook’s “fact-checking partner.”

In 2020, USA Today announced that it was strengthening its “fact-checking” network and partnering with Facebook. “As a media organization with unparalleled local and national reach, we take our commitment to providing people with truthful information very seriously, and fact-checking is an integral part of the journalism performed by USA TODAY and in newsrooms. of Gannett across the country,” Maribel Perez Wadsworth, Gannett’s chief information officer and publisher of USA TODAY had said. “We also recognize that the spread of misinformation on social media is a serious issue that deserves our attention in today’s world, so joining Facebook’s fact-checking program to identify misinformation felt like a step to us. We are proud to partner with Facebook on a program with such an important mission.

Now USA Today, a “fact checker” with Facebook, has failed to “fact check” its own stories. A list of the pieces that were removed was published by USA Today, along with an account of the investigation into Miranda, which began with an “external correction request” a few weeks ago. Later the audit was expanded to include a wide range of his work, with an emphasis on current topics and popular stories.

The notification on USA Today’s website reads, “After receiving an external correction request, USA TODAY has audited the reporting work of Gabriela Miranda. The audit found that some of the people named were not affiliated with the claimed organizations and appeared to have been fabricated. The existence of other named individuals could not be independently verified. Additionally, some stories included quotes that should have been credited to others.

Miranda previously worked for the Gainesville Times, where she covered education and Hispanic issues. She worked for a Red & Black student magazine while attending the University of Georgia, where she graduated in 2021.

The publication has promised to improve its approach for anyone wishing to file a complaint or request reviews. He also promised to contact institutions if they are mentioned in the article and take reasonable procedures to verify sources at all times.

On Thursday, USA Today had a videoconference with its staff to discuss the investigation. USA Today editor Nicole Carroll oversaw the meeting, which included a briefing on some of the issues raised by Miranda’s articles. According to a person briefed on the investigation, USA Today decided during the investigation that Miranda tried to mislead investigators by creating false evidence of his news content, including recordings of interviews.

A different story-making problem erupted in 2004 when USA Today accused Pulitzer Prize finalist and writer Jack Kelley of fabricating stories and plagiarizing content from other magazines. Kelley had resigned and later apologized.