Staff reporter fabricated sources in CW



A Crimson White reporter fabricated sources in several news stories dating back to Jan. 10 of this year, a review of the reporter’s work by Crimson White editors has found. The reporter has been removed from the paper’s staff in response to these findings.

Madison Roberts, a freshman majoring in journalism, quoted nearly 30 students, none of whom could be found in the UA student directory or on social media. Roberts admitted on March 13 to members of The Crimson White editorial board that she had fabricated the sources.

“I was overwhelmed and succumbed to a lot of pressure I’d been under,” Roberts said in an email Tuesday. “I did it because The Crimson White had become so important to me that I didn’t want to lose it.”

Roberts created names, years and majors for the sources. The fabrications were discovered when, on March 13, Roberts turned in two stories to editors for which she had fabricated every source, including a professor. The paper’s copy editors, while fact-checking the correct spelling of one of the fabricated students’ names, discovered that no such student existed. The news editors then checked UA directories for all of the sources in the stories. Top editors were notified, and Roberts was contacted immediately.

The falsification escalated in February 2013, the review shows. Since Feb. 20, three of Roberts’ stories used only fabricated sources.

“I made a mistake,” she said. “I own up to that and am accepting the consequences, but I did not mean to hurt anyone. I knew it could affect the CW as a whole, and I apologize to those I hurt.”

All of Roberts’ stories have been removed from cw.ua.edu. The list of stories quoting sources who do not appear in the University directory or on social media can be found below.

Some students find University ‘Drop/Add’ period too short, Jan. 10

UA transportation services grosses $7 million, Jan. 28

On-campus residents must register guns, Jan. 29

Many Alabama graduates overqualified, unemployed, Feb. 7

Some students have difficulty ‘Finishing in Four,’ Feb. 7

UA Alum produces Super Bowl ad, Feb. 13

Dining Halls waste only 4.6% of food, Feb. 19

Nationally, women choosing workforce over marriage, Feb. 20

Some students question shift to suite-style, Feb. 26

Employers, students use social media to hunt for jobs, internships, Feb. 28

Bama Dining addresses overcrowding of dining halls, March 5

When it doesn’t ‘get better’: recent study shows 15% of college students bullied, March 7

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