Local Paper Says Reporter Fabricated Interviews

Local Paper Says Reporter Fabricated Interviews

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  A local newspaper is apologizing and has fired one of its reporters.

Lagniappe says it discovered the reporter had fabricated interview subjects and made-up quotes.

The cover story in Lagniappe’s year-end addition about homelessness in Mobile featured a homeless man named Charles King– a man Lagniappe editors now say does not exist.

Katie Nichols wrote the story. She worked at Lagniappe for two years. She’s been fired and editors have combed over all of her past work looking for other incidents.

“We’ve only found two things that made it in to print that we feel really certain were fabricated,” said editor Rob Holbert. “But there’s a zero tolerance for that and that’s why we wrote about it. In the news business, we can’t have anything that is false.”

Lagniappe revealed the problem in its current issue. Holbert says it was a painful but necessary move.

“It’s something where we could not have said anything,” said Holbert. “It would have been easier to say nothing about it but it’s something that we felt we had to do. It has happened at a lot of newspapers – some of the biggest in the country have had this issue. The New York Times has had this issue several times. It is something that happened. You wonder why it happened. Why would you get into this business to do something like that?”

Lagniappe also revealed that Nichols may have fabricated her educational credentials. News-5 left messages for Nichols today but our calls were not returned. Lagniappe, currently a bi-weekly newspaper, will go to weekly publication next month.

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