USA Today announced that 23 articles written by a journalist at the outlet were removed from its website due to “fabricated sources and facts.”
After receiving an “external correction request,” the news outlet began an internal investigation into the work of reporter Gabriela Miranda, who has since resigned.
The weeks-long investigation “revealed that some individuals quoted were not affiliated with the organizations claimed and appeared to be fabricated,” according to a note sent to readers from the newspaper on June 16.
“The existence of other individuals quoted could not be independently verified. In addition, some stories included quotes that should have been credited to others,” the note continued.
Miranda was a breaking news reporter with the publication.
“We strive to be accurate and factual in all our content and regret this situation,” USA Today said in its notification to readers, adding it will “continue to reinforce and strengthen [its] reporting and editing diligence and processes.”
USA Today’s editor-in-chief, Nicole Carroll, led a meeting with employees via video conference on Thursday to discuss the situation. The meeting included a question-and-answer session and a briefing on some of the problems discovered in Miranda’s articles throughout the investigation.
USA Today concluded that Miranda “purposefully deceived” investigators by creating false evidence of news gatherings, including recordings of interviews, according to The New York Times, who spoke with individuals involved in the investigation.
One of those individuals disagreed with that conclusion in the June staff meeting, claiming that investigators could not verify some people’s identities in the recordings produced by Miranda.
As part of its note to readers, USA Today listed the un-published articles written by Miranda with hyperlinks that remain active but lead only to an editor’s note saying the article “has been removed from our platforms because it does not meet our standards.”
The removed articles by Miranda spanned various topics such as Texas’ bill to ban abortion after six weeks, the reaction of women in Ukraine to the Russian invasion, and the 10 most popular liquors for Christmas.
Some of the removed stories also appeared in the print version of the daily newspaper. As a result, the editor’s note to readers also appeared in print on the Friday following the revelation.
Miranda resigned during the investigation and has not publicly commented on the matter. The most recent article from her still on the USA Today website was published on April 17.