The Ides of March: The Crimson White Learns The Hard Way


Just four days after winning Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper and seven other awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 3 Mark of Excellence Awards, The University of Alabama student newspaper, The Crimson White, announced freshman reporter Madison Roberts fabricated sources in several news stories dating back to Jan. 10 of this year.

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Got $100,000? Want To Clone Your Dog? Step Right This Way…


Animal cloning.

Nothing new, right?

At this point nobody is going to throw a party for the scientist who cloned another sheep (yawn). Maybe if the sheep could pantomime a Swedish waterskier while hopping around like a kangaroo at a German bar at 2:36 in the morning we would be impressed. But until then, let’s hold off on handing out Nobel Prizes.

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What’s With All The Hullabaloo Kappa Sigma?


On the heels of a drug bust that yielded $10,000 worth of narcotics, the Kappa Sigma fraternity at Tulane University – or more specifically, two Kappa Sigma pledges at Tulane – found themselves on the wrong side of the law once again.

On Feb. 28 the Tulane student newspaper, The Hullabaloo, ran a front-page article documenting the Feb. 22 drug raid of the Kappa Sigma house and the arrest of two Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers; sophomores Wyatt Silverman and Jules Staib.

Silverman and Staib, both 19 and Tulane students, were arrested after they accepted a package containing 107 grams of ecstasy (MDMA) from undercover state police officers. The other drugs seized included 57 dosage units of LSD, 69 grams of psilocybin Mushrooms, 48 grams of opium, 22 grams of marijuana, .80 grams of Cocaine and .91 grams of DMT.

All told, the drug bust totaled $10,000.

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How The Manti Te’o Story Changed Journalism


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Now that the Manti Te’o saga is finally playing itself out and the true facts of the matter are starting to emerge, it’s (hopefully) time to put this story to bed.

This weird, twisted narrative enthralled the public for nearly two weeks, but a greater good can come out of all of this beyond exposing the sick, demented people who ‘catfish’ others.

Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated wrote a fantastic and eye-opening piece on how the Te’o hoax will alter the landscape of sportswriting for years to come.

In the story Layden not only questions the matter of the Te’o story, but he also questions his own work – examining past stories and wondering if he too fell under the guise of deception that Te’o executed so perfectly in telling his “story”

In recent days I began looking back — very randomly — through some of my own work.

In a 2004 story I wrote about Villanova’s NCAA basketball victory over Georgetown 19 years earlier, there is a dense paragraph about Gary McLain, Villanova’s point guard in that game. The paragraph contains 15 facts about McLain, who had not been interviewed by anybody for many years. Of those 15, many were confirmable and confirmed — that McLain “works for a company that places doctors in temporary positions,” and that his daughter was 11 years old. Other facts were more slippery — “He says he has lapsed into drug and alcohol uses “a couple of times,” and that he is currently not using — and almost impossible to nail down solidly. (The qualifier “He says,” is a great and useful crutch in these situations, as in “The quarterback says he has a 3.79 GPA.” But I can’t help but wonder if the reader flies over the qualifier and accepts the information as fact.).

In a 2011 feature on Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, I wrote that Rodgers “took his 1,310 SAT to Butte [college],” because Rodgers told me he scored 1,310 on the SAT. I never saw Rodgers’s test results; it seems unlikely he still has them. I was confident that Rodgers was telling the truth, but the reality is that I can’t know for sure. Is that detail necessary to establish that a clearly smart guy is quantifiably smart?

Even an award-winning journalist like Layden, who has the respect of his his peers and his audience, can’t help but wonder if he was led to believe one thing, when in fact it wasn’t the exact truth.

This doesn’t just apply strictly to sports either.

The trust a journalist puts in those they interview has to be complete, or else stories would never get finished due to endless fact-checking. But at the same time, one must apply due diligence and make sure their story is 100% accurate.

Otherwise, all the story does then is perpetuate a lie.