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The Media

Wired Amends Stories With Fabricated Quotes 347

SiliconEntity writes "Wired Online has been forced to correct dozens of stories in the wake of disclosures that reporter Michelle Delio may have fabricated quotes. Wired has published over 700 stories by Delio since 2000, and in a review of 160 of the most recent ones, 24 were found to have quotes that could not be confirmed. Several of the Wired stories being questioned were discussed on Slashdot, including Spyware on My Machine? So What?, Minniapple's Mini Radio Stations, The Masters of Memory Lane, and probably many more. Wired is not the only one to get burned; MIT Technology Review and InfoWorld have also had to retract or alter stories written by Delio." Update: 05/10 19:20 GMT by Z : Altered to clarify Wired's actions.
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Wired Amends Stories With Fabricated Quotes

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  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by It doesn't come easy ( 695416 ) * on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:41PM (#12490964) Journal
    Any relation to Maureen O'Gara?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "First Post"
    -Michelle Dellio
  • Whew! (Score:4, Funny)

    by MoralHazard ( 447833 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:42PM (#12490977)
    Good thing we don't have to worry about Slashdot retracting anything, on account of carrying those stories--it hasn't got any editorial credibility to lose!

    Good job, Zonk! Can you post some Roland Pippqupqpqpqpaiillellepzaille today, please?
    • Re:Whew! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:49PM (#12491078) Homepage Journal

      Slashdot, and other similar sites, are a little different because the whole point is to foster discussion. if someone invents a quote on the spot, or chooses a headline that doesn't fit the story, or whatever there are plenty of people that are willing to point that out. That's the point of Slashdot, it's more of a forum for discussion, than a news source (although once you get enough comments it becomes easy to do a little research and make your own informed decisions).

      Michelle, on the other hand, was supposed to be reporting "news." It's often just as biased, but it's supposed to at least be verifiable. You might not agree with the conclusion, but not the facts that were presented. Heck, even on Slashdot the editors don't just make stuff up so that it fits their story.

    • Re:Whew! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:50PM (#12491082) Journal
      In fact, according to the linked Wired article:
      Wired News is not retracting any of these stories. Rather, we are appending notes to the stories, indicating what we have been unable to confirm about them and editing them, as noted, where appropriate. By keeping these stories posted and clearly marked, we hope that our readers can help identify any sources whom we cannot track down.
      Maybe Slashdot will issue a retraction?!?
  • New job (Score:5, Funny)

    by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:42PM (#12490984)
    So will Delio's new job be reporting for the New York Times or a Slashdot editor?
    • Re:New job (Score:5, Funny)

      by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 ( 812236 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:45PM (#12491022) Journal
      Neither. Seeing as she has a penchant for fabricating quotes, she'll be working in the film business, fabricating review quotes for the next Ben Affleck movie.

      If you see a Michel LeDelio quoted on a poster, remember you heard it here first.
    • Re:New job (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:50PM (#12491084)
      It should be noted that Ms. Delio is not being accused of wholesale fabrication as a certain writer for the NYT was found out having done.

      What has apparently happened is an accountability problem. She's taken too much second-hand information and reported it as first hand in a double handful of articles. A journalism prof and several grad students were able to confirm the vast majority of her quotes and attributions.

      This amounts to sloppiness, carelessness and unprofesionalism rather than blatant deception or malicious intent.

      It'll probably still end her writing career, however.
      • Re:New job (Score:4, Funny)

        by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda@nOspam.etoyoc.com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:31PM (#12491585) Homepage Journal
        In any other field, sloppiness, carlessness, and unprofessionalism will end a career.

        Unless you are a VP or higher.

        • Re:New job (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tim C ( 15259 )
          If you *are* a VP or higher (or local equivalent), it'll generally mean that you leave with a massive pay off and complete freedom to screw up at a whole new company.

          Not that I'm bitter that my company's last chairman oversaw wasting literally billions of pounds (Sterling) of money, yet left with a pay off in the millions of pounds, while the ordinary employees are denied pay rises year after year...
    • I don't see a future for her in Slashdot.... Remember, the specialty is making up quotes. That's a creative endeavor that usually involves research.
      Contrast to Slashdot editors, who are notorious for not remembering stories posted days or even hours ago.
  • Pic (Score:3, Funny)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:42PM (#12490987) Homepage
    H ere [lucent.com].

    Why can't we have hottie tech reporters, I say? At least when they go crooked we could cut them some slack because they look good =)

  • by CypherXero ( 798440 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:43PM (#12490990) Homepage
    ...from hiring people that previously worked for the New York Times.
  • Shattered Glass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NekoXP ( 67564 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:43PM (#12490995) Homepage
    After everyone finishes watching Revenge of the Sith, go watch Shattered Glass.
    Hayden Christiansen does a great job in it, and it's a great movie (and true
    story/book too..)
  • Random audits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:44PM (#12490998) Homepage Journal
    While it would be difficult to check every source for every story, not checking them leads less-than-scrupulous journalists into temptation. Why not have a publication select a number of sources at random and check them? Wouldn't this go a long way towards "keeping honest people honest"?

    • Reminds me of a situation with Dan Rather...

      Everyone is too busy with their real job, selling advertizing!
    • Better option! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by david.heyman ( 36692 )
      Have their fellow reporters MetaModerate the articles. Each day you check the facts of ten randomly selected articles by your fellow reporters. Heck, small independent, free publications could MetaModerate each other.
    • Why not have a publication select a number of sources at random and check them?

      Why not check them all? How long can it take to parse a submitted piece and run an app that automates Google searches for similar (or identical) text?
    • Re:Random audits (Score:5, Informative)

      by The Barking Dog ( 599515 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:53PM (#12491141) Homepage
      When I was interviewed by Wired (published May 2003, page 43; it's not worth looking up though, trust me), an editor contacted me for follow-up a few days after the freelancer who wrote the article to double-check that I was who I said I was and that I said the things that they were going to publish. Maybe they've become more lax in the two years since then, or maybe this reported falsified the contact information for the sources.
      • Re:Random audits (Score:3, Interesting)

        "When I was interviewed by Wired (published May 2003, page 43; it's not worth looking up though, trust me), an editor contacted me for follow-up a few days after the freelancer who wrote the article to double-check that I was who I said I was and that I said the things that they were going to publish. Maybe they've become more lax in the two years since then, or maybe this reported falsified the contact information for the sources."

        That's pretty interesting, but there's a subtle difference between wired ma
        • Re:Random audits (Score:3, Informative)

          by cyberformer ( 257332 )
          This is how it would be with most magazines, bit with Wired, the difference is much less subtle than that. The online version is basically just a franchise operation, run by a completely different company.

          That seems pretty stupid, I know: Most publications care enough about their reputation to have the Web site bear some relation to the print version, and you'd think that would be particularly important to one whose subject matter is so tied up with the Web. But I guess Wired has some reason for it, probab
        • Re:Random audits (Score:3, Informative)

          by hyperizer ( 123449 )
          That's pretty interesting, but there's a subtle difference between wired magazine (dead tree) and wired news (online).

          It's not that subtle. They've been owned by different companies since 1998. [theregister.co.uk] Conde Naste owns Wired Magazine but Lycos owns Wired Digital.
    • While it would be difficult to check every source for every story, not checking them leads less-than-scrupulous journalists into temptation. Why not have a publication select a number of sources at random and check them?

      Why shouldn't they check every single source? You, or I, or Joe the Town Drunk can surf the web and regurgitate news stories in a blog. This can prove useful as a sort of "first exposure" to learn something just breaking, but while sometimes you get the Beeb, sometimes you get Pravda.
  • From TFA:
    <blink>Wired News is not retracting any of these stories.</blink> Rather, we are appending notes to the stories, indicating what we have been unable to confirm about them and editing them, as noted, where appropriate. By keeping these stories posted and clearly marked, we hope that our readers can help identify any sources whom we cannot track down.
    • This is because none of the sources were proven to be made up.

      They were just all "unconfirmed".
      only 24 out of 170 ain't bad for trying to get people to remember if they said something. Not to mention that some of the people such as Nigerian Scam Artists [wired.com] were probably not wanting to be contacted again. I'm curious if this is just a witch hunt, or if there is actually credibility in it. Anyone find some quotes that *really* seem bogus and out there yet?
      • Anyone find some quotes that *really* seem bogus and out there yet?

        Yeah, I found one:
        "Wired Online Retracts Stories"
        Oh, was that not what you meant?
      • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:37PM (#12491662)
        This is because none of the sources were proven to be made up.

        It's impossible (or at least very difficult) to prove a negative. You would literally have to go through the entire population of the planet to prove that these people didn't exist, and check death records over the past several years for every country on earth. If she's quoting someone, and her answer when somebody asks about them is "well, they were a friend of a friend, I don't know where they're from" (as she did say about several of these people), that's almost impossible to disprove.

        It would be naive, though, to think that she didn't make these people up. There's a disturbing pattern here; this is not a few isolated cases, and it's interesting that she can provide contact info for some sources easily but cannot verify others at all (including some she supposedly contacted the very week this investigation was going on). If you read through the actual report, she did, for example, provide a source list for everyone but the sources that couldn't be found by others, and the few bits of info she did provide for these sources turned out to be fake (of course, she made up some new excuses for why the email addresses and phone numbers didn't work). So she was actively trying to cover for herself; this was not all just a big coincidence.

        (As a side note, I have read entire articles on Wired that turned out to be fake for one reason or another, the most obvious examples being the "Toothing" article and the article about iPods on the Microsoft campus [which was filled with quotes from anonymous sources and was refuted pretty strongly by Microsoft employees after it ran]. Wired Online has some serious credibility problems right now, and the only reason nobody seems to much care is that the expectations of them seem to be so low to begin with.)

        I say, if you're a news organization and you can't verify the source of a quote, you treat it as a fake source and you in turn treat the entire article as suspect. These articles should all be pulled and her career should be over. She should get no "second" chance - her second chance was the first article she wrote after her first made-up source. She continued to make up sources for subsequent articles, so she has more than used up her "second" chances if you ask me.
        • I spent a few years in J-school, and I can only add that quotes can come from any number of places. If it comes from another publication or article in the past, you give attribution akin to "Mr. X, in a 2002 interview with Joe Blow at the St. Louis Dispatch-Courier, was quoted as saying "insert-quote-here"." If you can't get someone you're interviewing to be quoted by name, you say something like "One source close to the controversy, who wished to remain anonymous, said "insert-quote-here"." If you're talki
  • Trusting the media (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thewiz ( 24994 ) * on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:46PM (#12491026)
    It seems we just can't trust most of the mainstream media today. It seems that schools that teach journalism skip teaching about integrity, ethics, and the responsibility for reporters to be objective.

    I think I'll just stick to Groklaw and forget the rest of the press.
    • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:50PM (#12491104) Homepage
      Now I know that Groklaw is considered a Good Guy(tm) here at Slashdot (and I am therefore risking my karma), but what makes you think that Groklaw is any more trustworthy than the "mainstream media"?
    • by MoralHazard ( 447833 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:51PM (#12491118)
      It seems we just can't trust most of the mainstream media today.

      So... are you basing that unsubstantiated allegation on the anecdotal evidence of this one event, or would you care to actually back up such an irresponsible, inflammatory accusation with some facts?

      Maybe you're right, though... I loved Groklaw's coverage of the Iraq war, the election, the Tsunami, North Korean nukes, and all those other things that actually matter.

      GodDAMN, I'm in a snarky mood today!
      • I dunno. The GP's summary seems pretty spot on to me.

        If you really need think this is based on a story about an obscure for a fairly obscure magazine, then you clearly haven't been on Planet Earth lately.

        Among greed, laziness and ideological bias, you literally cannot trust anything you read in the MSM. The only choice is to use several sources and try to discern who is being objective and who is not.

        • by MoralHazard ( 447833 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:17PM (#12491429)
          If you really need think this is based on a story about an obscure for a fairly obscure magazine, then you clearly haven't been on Planet Earth lately.

          Come on, seriously--give me a little credit, huh? I know what Wired magazine is, and all that.

          My problem with the GGP post is that it's too easy to assume that bad behavior is pandemic and out-of-control, because that's the only time you notice it. Think about how many tens of thousands of professional journalists are writing for how many tens of publications, just in the USA, right now.

          How in the hell does one guy's bad behavior translate into "It seems we just can't trust most of the mainstream media today." Even if you throw in Jason Blair of NYT fame, Dan Rather, and another dozen people who made stuff up or failed some kind of ethical standard, you're still talking about A DROP IN THE BUCKET compared to the number out there who seem to be doing their jobs properly!

          Do you work in IT? Because the GGP's statement, and yours, are kind of like people reading about Kevin Mitnick of the Lowes CC thieves and saying "You just can't trust most of these computer people today, they don't seem to have any ethical standards with all this hacking going on." It's an attack on the integrity of a lot of people who haven't done anything wrong.

          Seriously, it's an intellectually lazy statement that accuses an entire profession of corruption. That's a shitty thing to say.
          • by KillerDeathRobot ( 818062 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:49PM (#12491776) Homepage
            Actually, you're the one being either intellectually lazy or purposely intellectually dishonest. Not trusting the mainstream media is VERY different from not trusting individual journalists -- that's really a strawman argument.

            Guess what? You CAN'T trust computer people in general because of the actions of hackers and others. This is why IT security exists. A few bad computer people can do enormous damage. In the same way, a few bad journalists here and there can have a huge impact. Think about this: if someone publishes complete fabrications and never gets caught, those fabrications stand as published truths which other journalists will cite, which could then themselves be cited later, etc.

            Not implicitly trusting the mainstream media is something like having a firewall in place. Most people out there aren't trying to hack your computer, but the possibility for such is great if you're not protected. Similarly, there are enough lazy, stupid, and/or malicious people out there that you should remember to keep a critical eye open with whatever you're reading.
    • Integrity is dead. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I found this out while pursuing my engineering degree.

      I could talk about how after we got our take home tests which we were explicitly instructed to complete individually, a group of students went immediately to the library to do them together.

      But I suppose I'll just go with how the professor of our Engineering Ethics class encouraged everyone to lie on their resume. That was pretty much when I woke up, and realized what a stupid little kid I was, and how the real world really was just like high school,
    • by MattHaffner ( 101554 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:06PM (#12491289)
      It seems we just can't trust most of the mainstream media today.

      No, I'm sorry you still have to think. And yes, it helps to be a critical thinker. Not only are the sources of information occasionally biased and sometimes fictional, they sometimes are even unintentionally wrong.

      It seems that schools that teach journalism skip teaching about integrity, ethics, and the responsibility for reporters to be objective.

      Right, because we know that every student utilizes what they learn in school. Revoke their charters to issue degrees!

      I know, let's blame the "pressure" of the market to bring "quality" stories to the table. It's the publishers' faults. Boycott!

      Hey, how about we actually call it what it is: a reporter who made shit up for ego, money, to have more time to play WoW, or whatever. Is it so hard for us to take responsibility these days that we can't even blame an individual for doing something fundamentally wrong?
  • A first read of the summary makes it look like that Wired is retracting some stories, and correcting others. This is not the case:

    "Wired News is not retracting any of these stories."

    Seems to me the journo just got a little burned out and put it a little padding rather than made up MOG lies. However, the whole Spyware article was based on unverifiable quotes, which is cause for some concern.
  • Remember kids .. (Score:2, Redundant)

    by grazzy ( 56382 )
    .. not everything you read on the internets is true!
  • Not to worry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:47PM (#12491050) Homepage Journal
    They've got a few experienced journalists lined up to take her place.

    • Janet Cooke
    • Stephen Glass
    • Jayson Blair
    • Jack Kelley
    • Jeff Gannon
    • Maureen O'Gara

    "I swear I am not making this up" -- Dave Barry

    Personally, I don't talk to reporters anymore. For years I have been disgusted by "fill-in-the-blanks-with-whatever-sounds-good" journalists.

    As a teenager I was featured in the local town paper with my father's OSI (that's Ohio Scientific) computer, which I was learning to program in the mid 70's. I was aghast to read the article, with my face prominently displayed above it at the dining room table near the computer, filled in with all sorts of wild claims. Seemed to me that reality wasn't exciting enough for the reporter so she threw in some crap about my teenage brother writing for Scientific American (she screwed up the name Ohio Scientific, which my brother had written a program for.)

    Year's later I'd be misquoted, embarrassingly so, during the outsourcing of my department. A decidedly pro-labor, and damn whatever he said, article put words in my mouth and I'll never forgive that paper for that. The next time they called I hung up. I don't talk to reporters anymore.

    • Record EVERYTHING! (Score:5, Informative)

      by GQuon ( 643387 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:04PM (#12491270) Journal
      n'th rule of interviews: Record everything you say to a reporter! Some states allow you to record without informing the reporter. To be on the safe side, if you don't know the laws of your state, ask the reporter if it's OK. If (s)he says "no", why the smeg are you still giving an interview?

      (I thought of this myself, but I have later found it verified in information pamphlets on dealing with the media.)

      n+1'th rule: Everything is on the record. Even if the camera appears to be turned off, the tally (the red blinking light) isn't on or whatever.

      My own rule: Bloggers are your best friend if a journalist c**** on you. "Crockumentary" filmmaking and reporting, while still financially viable, isn't as damaging to the "public record" as it used to be. The people who want to believe the a**-journalist will still do it, but other people will know better.
    • by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:19PM (#12491454)
      I almost became the source of misquotes.

      I got a call one night from a local TV station asking if I would mind asking some questions. Sure, might as well have my opinion count in some poll. So they proceed to ask questions about politics in Serbia. I was pretty proud I could give informed answers. But towards the end, when I prefaced an answer with "Well, I'm not an expert, but.." the woman said, "Wait, aren't you _____ the international relations expert?" I said "No, I'm _____ the engineer." Turns out I was being mistakenly interviewed because the real expert and I had the same name.

      I still think I had good answers.
  • Why? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why fabricate quotes? There's a bunch of slashdotters anxious do quote on pretty much everything... Specially those Anonymous Cowards...
  • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:48PM (#12491067) Homepage Journal
    The recent cases of reporters fabricating newstories only highlights how poor the editorial oversight is in the American newspaper industry. Most papers just put their news divisions on auto-pilot and never fact check, let alone spell check anything. I have seen an increase in shoddy writing and poorly attributed quotes since the mid-1980s. Because the larger American public doesn't seem to give a rats-ass, nothing gets done.

    This is a hand wringing exercise by the American press. Readership has and will continue to fall off in favor of other news outlets, robbing the public of the detail that is required to make informed political decisions.

    Great news for the rabid, camera-mugging politicians.
    • Laziness is one of the virtues of programmers and vices of the free media. I don't really think these people have some evil hidden agenda to pollute public discourse with lies, I think they're probably just schmoes who are under the gun on a deadline and cut some corners in order to make sure that what sounds like a really good story makes it onto paper in time.

      That's from the perspective of the publications anyway. The laziness displayed by the people actually fabricating the news is much worse, but eve
      • The laziness displayed by the people actually fabricating the news is much worse, but even they are doing it because they're lazy, or because they are dishonest opportunists who want to be known for getting the scoop.

        And in the case of Stephen Glass, his editor was more than happy to let him run around without a leash. He was jubilant at having a Wunderkind in his newsroom.

        I realize that every profession has its fair share of lazy-asses and cons, but the profession I work in (scientific research) has a s
  • Sound remnant of Stephen Glass' fabrication of stories..
  • That is stange (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TedTschopp ( 244839 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:49PM (#12491077) Homepage
    I've been interviewed for a Wired Story, and the interviewers/Writers editor called us up to fact check, and quote check. I wonder why this didn't happen here?

    Strange...

    Ted Tschopp
  • I read about this earlier, and it should be noted that the quotes she is accused of fabricating were all for "color." The stories themselves and the main people quoted therein are legitimate. So its not a Jayson Blair or MOG type of deal. That being said, it still looks bad, and that's anethema to a news organization.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:50PM (#12491092)
    When you write such riveting articles with titles like "Read The F***ing Story, Then RTFM" we know that you must be a gem of a freelancer! I wouldn't know for sure though, I couldn't RTFS or the FM. I'm a Slashdotter afterall.

    What I found funny about the quotes given by "Carmella" is that they were mirrored on several other sites with the citation leading back to the Wired article.

    From this [wired.com] article entitled "Spyware on My Machine? So What?":

    I had a good idea what the Marketscore software does, though I didn't read the entire user agreement," said 19-year-old New York University student Keith Caron. "In general when any application asks to install another application, I assume the other application is spyware. But you have to support spyware if you're going to have free file-sharing applications. Fair's fair.

    I had a good idea what Delio was doing when she wrote these articles, though I didn't read the entire thing," said 26-year-old Slashdotter Bill Roehl. "In general when any story is posted to the main page, I assume it's full of worthless bullshit that no one cares about. But you have to support Slashdot if you're going to be a Slashbotter. Fair's fair in addiction."

    I know that I was asked many times to answer simple questions on campus. I usually would give some valid reply and list a fake name and address. They can have my thoughts but why would I ever give them my personal information.

    "Keith" seems like a typical college student from 2004, IMHO, most of them don't give a shit as long as they can get their music free and fast.
  • In the wake of scandals at the NYT, USN&WR, et. al., and now Wired, is the profession of journalism going to get its act together? I think these scandals are a good thing, in that they are forcing journalists to realize that they've not been doing a good enough job of policing their profession.

    Things seem bleak for traditional journalism right now, but the threat of distributed reporting from blogs, the demise of local newspapers, and this series of scandals could be just the thing to force the profes

    • Traditional Journalism has a spotty record, I wouldn't be putting them on pedistal.

      In the 20's and 30's they were the mouthpeice of business.

      In the 40's and 50's they were conduits for propoganda.

      The 60's and 70's were all about counter culture.

      The 80's and 90's they were back in the pockets of business.

      Journalism, in short, is a very shallow reflection of society as a whole. It always has been. It always will be.

  • Tempest in a teapot (Score:5, Informative)

    by jaymzter ( 452402 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:51PM (#12491117) Homepage
    Before your knees starts jerking...

    If you RTFA, you'll learn that of 700 articles, only about 24 had citation issues, and of those, only FOUR were articles that relied on unconfirmed quotes. The woman didn't cite her sources correctly, that's all this is.
    • Before your knees starts jerking...

      I can't help it! Goot kick up my heels! Gotta dance, gotta jerk those knees! I have happy feet! Pile on! Pile on!

    • Not quite (Score:5, Informative)

      by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:31PM (#12491596) Homepage
      Actually, if you read Penenberg's report, he only looked at a sample of 160 of Delio's articles. Of those, 24 had sources Penenberg's team could not confirm. I don't know where you get your four number.

      I was the editor of the "Enterprise Blogs and Wikis" story for InfoWorld that Penenberg talks about in his report and I can confirm that Ms. Delio similarly did not respond to requests that she identify the partial sources she cited in that article. Other editors at InfoWorld followed up on sources in other stories independently and were unable to confirm those sources.

      Tempest in a teapot? Maybe. To tell the truth, if there were fabricated quotes in the articles Ms. Delio wrote for me, I really don't think they did a whole lot of damage to the stories themselves. Barring the unconfirmed sources I mentioned, I do believe that her articles were meant to be factual stories written in good faith. That's why InfoWorld, like Wired, has not actually retracted any of Ms. Delio's stories; in some cases we have excised certain portions of those stories from the online versions, but all of the stories are still available (though it's only about four stories total for us, if I remember right).

      That's kind of the shame of this whole thing, too. It doesn't give me any joy to see Ms. Delio dragged out in front of the court of public opinion for what may have been nothing more than a pattern of very poor judgment. But anytime a writer may have fabricated something in an otherwise ostensibly factual story, that's the kind of tempest in a teapot you want your media sources to jump all over. You just can't let it slide.

      InfoWorld won't be able to use Ms. Delio's services anymore, but for myself I wish her the best of luck and hope she can move on from this episode in a way that is satisfying for her both personally and professionally. (Note that these statements are my own and do not represent the official opinion of InfoWorld magazine or its parent company, IDG.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In my exclusive interview with Michelle Delio, she explained, "It seemed like a good idea at the time. Making up quotations was a harmless way for me to support my crack habit, and I was getting really tired of working as a hooker. A lot of people think that having sex and getting paid, is a fun life. And it is, for a while. But let me tell you: after a few months of it, it takes its toll. The clients are so demanding... suck this, insert that, no tip if you don't fake a loud one. Fabricating quotatio
  • by mathmatt ( 851301 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:52PM (#12491121) Homepage
    These titles alone sound pretty hoaky:

    Spyware on My Machine? - I run several operating systems (Mac OS X, linux, etc.) and I've never heard of this so-called "spyware."
    So What? - Bad Title. Out.
    Minniapple's Mini Radio Stations - Bad spelling. Right out.
    The Masters of Memory Lane - OK the title's legit, but if you read the article, it says "sources: O. Whatshisname"
  • Most "news" sources are grossly inaccurate; either as a result of the reporter not being familiar with the subject, personal bias slanting the report or investigation, or the simple fact that "boring" news doesn't sell. Why should Wired and the host of other publications which he appeared in have to retract anything? By doing this, are they not implying that all their other stories are accurate? Maybe someone (preferably John Stossel) should do a piece on inaccurate reporting in general, where reporters a
  • Who wants to bet this has been going on for decades, and that modern networks and communications tech is just making it easier to find the fakes?
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:53PM (#12491151)
    "We really should have realized something was amiss when she mentioned that a spyware program found her lost cat," said senior Wired editor Brank McTonnahay. "The problem is, you see, is that I and the other senior editors have severe addictions to cocaine and heroin. It's a full time job just keeping the monkey away. Sally over in the PC department is also a total crack whore."

    "It's lies! Lies I tell you!" said Ms. Delio, shaking her fist at a press conference held the women's rest room at an abandone Gulf Oil station off the New Jersey Turnpike. "Wait... I mean, the claims that I told lies are lies, you see? My words were unvarnished truth! The Walker Art Museum really did transform into a giant Autobot and prance around the area. There were, like BILLIONS of witnesses!"

    "She's (sniff) a troubled (sniff) girl," said and shaky, sweaty Rebekah Chemtrayle who is some sort of senior something at Wired that no one is quite able to define. "(Sniff) she has had some traumatic (sniff) experiences (sniff) and some (sniff) childhood demons (sniff) that causes her to (sniff) do really unsound things (sniff) like write false (sniff) stories, wear poly(sniff)ester and vote (sniff) Republican... fuck, I need a fix. How much would youy (sniff) pay me for (sniff) a BBBJ?"

    "They won't catch me!" cried Ms. Delio in a phone interview from what she claimed was her Fortress Of Solitude in Flat Rock, Michigan deep beneath the Ford Mustang plant. "I'll unleash my legions of lesbian ninja kittens on tham all, and I, yes *I* shall have the last laugh. Here it goes. Hahahahahahaaa!"

  • by GQuon ( 643387 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:54PM (#12491157) Journal
    Hey,

    Now that the Huffington Post [huffingtonpost.com] is online, perhaps Hilary Rosen [slashdot.org] should be joined by over there with Maureen O'Gara [slashdot.org], Mary Mapes and Michelle Delio. Or would that lead to the birth of a black hole on the internet?

    Perhaps they could branch off to create their own blog "Fem-Hacks", the gender-correct alternative to "Stud-Hacks" of Jeff Gannon/Guckert, Jyason Blair and Dan Rather fame? I think the market potential would be huge!
  • by mapmaker ( 140036 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:55PM (#12491173)
    Wired has published over 700 stories by Delio since 2000

    That's more than a story every three days, including weekends, for over 5 years. And that's just for Wired - it doesn't include articles written for other publications!

    Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but it seems there should have been the suspicion that someone who can discover, investigate and report on a newsworthy phenomenon every 2.5 days for 5 years straight might be cutting corners somewhere.

  • I have never bought into the myth that blogging is such a highly accountable medium, but this is precisely the reason why the "MSM" is losing ground to at least new media. How can you take seriously a publication that just makes up quotes? That's borderline illegal behavior.

    He should be fired on the spot for this kind of behavior. Summary loss of employment is the only way that a media company like Wired can come out of this clean.
  • Er, so what again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alaren ( 682568 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:57PM (#12491201)
    "...24 were found to have quotes that could not be confirmed."

    Based on the article, I'm not completely sure how much I should care. It's completely possible that the quotes were fabricated, as it were, from whole cloth. It's equally possible that the reporter in question is just lazy about notetaking or maintaining contact information. For that matter, failing to keep records in hard copy followed by a system crash could create a loss of contact information.

    Should the reporter have been more careful? Sure. But "could not confirm" is not always the same as "invented," especially when we're talking about the older stories.

    When stuff like this happens, I just have to wonder if it's like when Congress holds emergency sessions over issues of minimal national import but maximum political visibility. Think about it--if you throw out relatively unimportant stories from time to time to show that you're "doing your best" to make the news honest and thorough and verifiable, who would think to ask about more insidious methods of information tampering?

    After all, a news source that verifies quotes even when they are immaterial to a story would never massage the rhetoric of some other piece to purvey a slanted perspective, right? Right?

    [shrugs] Okay, ramble done. Whether this reporter is lying or just lazy, obviously there are problems needing to be addressed. I just can't shake the feeling that this rates pretty low on the scale of important journalistic developments.
    • It's equally possible that the reporter in question is just lazy about notetaking or maintaining contact information.

      Or its possible that, when going through a list of 700 contacts (if there's only one/story) compiled over 5 years, that 24 people moved or changed a phone number or otherwise couldn't be contacted.

      I'm really at a loss as to how this is even newsworthy.
  • by dameron ( 307970 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:00PM (#12491228)
    Why is it that some kinds of bad journalism, like fabricating quotes, is career suicide, but Bob Novak can leak a CIA agent's identity and collect multiple paychecks?

    Why don't the "journalists" who ignore real stories (the Bush/Blair "smoking gun" memo and the "misplaced" $9 billion in Iraq) in favor of sensationalism like runaway brides and missing white children lose their credibility?

    There's a lot more wrong with the state of journalism in the U.S. than fictional quotes. Roger Ailes meeting with the Whitehouse to "shape" press coverage for example.

    -dameron
  • anagram (Score:5, Funny)

    by FidelCatsro ( 861135 ) <fidelcatsro&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:00PM (#12491232) Journal
    the name is an anagram of " Im code Lie Hell" fitting dont you think
  • by SirBruce ( 679714 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:01PM (#12491235) Homepage
    ... it's not so much that editors don't fact-check, but that those quoted don't get the chance to fact-check. I've been interviewed a number of times, but I've never gotten to see the final text before publication. I think reporting would be much better if, once stories were written, those mentioned/quoted in the story had a chance to review what the article says and offer feedback to the reporter and editor. This could clear up a lot of misunderstandings and misquotes that neither party intended.

    Bruce
  • Do you remember every comment you made to anyone 5 years ago? This could be a get out of jail free card for a lucky few!
    A positive quote about SCO in 2000? I don't know what you are talking about! RETRACT IT!
  • "I'm a poopy-head"
    -- Michelle Delio, 10 May 2005
  • History repeats itself. I can't remember if the movie was based on a true story or not but I believe it was.

    Shattered Glass [imdb.com]
  • by funny-jack ( 741994 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:17PM (#12491431) Homepage
    Or, they could have just created Wired: the Blog, and move all her stories there. Problem solved!

    shameless semi-related plug [blogspot.com]
  • by deft ( 253558 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:27PM (#12491540) Homepage
    We spoke at length, and he/she told me, "I am very sorry for any harm that i may have caused by completely making up a quote and attempting to pass it off as real. had I known what would happen, i would have tried to hide it better".

    There you have it, from the horses mouth, I swear.

    Really.
  • by ChrisCampbell47 ( 181542 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:34PM (#12491632)
    This is a topic that I've personally followed very closely for over decade. If anyone out there is interest in the issues and events surrounding fraud and ethics in journalism, let me point out two sources:

    Book: Hard News : The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media, by Seth Mnookin [amazon.com]
    Beyond the obvious fraud commited by Jayson Blair, Mnookin delves into what was wrong in the NYT newsroom and managerial organization that allowed Blair to get away with it. In short: an imperious Howell Raines alienated his subordinate editors and the communications process broken down, allowing a "charismatic crook" to slip past the checks and balances that normally would catch him.

    Movie: Shattered Glass, starring *cough* Hayden Christensen [imdb.com]
    At the New Republic, Stephen Glass was able to subvert their fact checking process -- starting with occasionally making up quotes, he ended up fabricating entire stories out of whole cloth. The Forbes Digital investigation [forbes.com] that finally brought him down will likely be interesting to readers here ...

    I'm purposely not reading the comments on this thread, because the naivety exhibited will certainly make my head spin, and I need to get back to work. In short, just like the typical Slashdot reader knows a hell of a lot more about the subtleties of IT than a journalist, the journalism professional knows a hell of a lot more about the subtleties of journalism ethics than 99% of Slashdot readers.

    And above all, spend a little time reading "hard" journalism once in while (even online versions of the old media, like NYT, WP, etc.) and get a feel for what rigorous journalism looks like. Blogs have their own set of problems that you may be blind to if you never read "real" reporting ...

  • Fabricated quotes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tuxlove ( 316502 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @03:51PM (#12491792)
    The title of this story, Wired Amends Stories With Fabricated Quotes, is disingenuous at best. I could find no statement anywhere that the quotes in these articles were indeed fabricated. They simply state that the sources could not be confirmed, because they are anonymous. Now, if you decide you want to read between the lines and treat "unconfirmed" as "fabricated", that's certainly your right. But to put such a statement into a story headline only adds to slashdot's reputation as inflammatory and of questionable accuracy and motive.

    Perhaps we need to see a headline on some other "news" site entitled "Slashdot Headline About Unconfirmable Quotes Cannot Be Confirmed".

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