Each week, Texan staff members spend countless hours working to keep the UT community informed. We strive each day to make sure the stories we publish are accurate and balanced.
We’ve always tried to be as transparent as possible in our reporting. In standing by this goal, I want to let our readers know about a situation that came to my attention this week regarding two of our stories.
On Tuesday, the Texan staff was contacted by a spokesperson from the city of Austin with concerns regarding an article that had been published about sidewalk improvements in West Campus. Richard Mendoza, Austin Public Works director, and Karla Taylor, chief of staff for the Austin Transportation Department, were both quoted in the article, but both of these officials told our staff that they had never given an interview to that reporter.
After an internal investigation into these allegations, our staff confirmed the reporter fabricated the quotes in that article and at least one other. That reporter, senior news reporter Sara Johnson, has been let go from the Texan effective immediately. In addition, our staff will be working diligently to verify all of the quotes in her published articles.
The following articles have been retracted in print and online, and have been removed from our website:
Nov. 5, 2019: “Planning Commission approve proposal for more high-frequency transit routes”
Nov. 19, 2019: “Sidewalk ramp improvements coming to northern end of West Campus”
Fabricating quotes — or any information in an article — goes against everything we stand for as journalists and as Texan staff members. From staffers’ very first day on staff, reporting expectations are consistently reiterated. Our reporters are continually reminded that they are responsible for doing their due diligence in ensuring their reporting is fair and truthful, and that this isn’t a job to be taken lightly.
We are deeply disappointed that this situation occurred, but remain committed to our mission of seeking the truth, being transparent in our reporting, and publishing stories that are objective and factual.
We will let our readers know the results of the verification process once it is complete.
Catherine Marfin, Managing Editor