By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

For the Cape Cod Times, the beginning of the trail

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Image via Today’s Front Pages at the Newseum

You may have heard that a journalistic scandal is unfolding at the Cape Cod Times. A 59-year-old reporter, Karen Jeffrey, left the paper after editor Paul Pronovost and publisher Peter Meyer concluded she had fabricated sources in at least 34 stories dating back to 1998. Jeffrey had worked at the daily since 1981.

According to the apology that the paper has published, the fabrications appear to be restricted to “lighter fare,” and that Jeffrey managed to stick to nonfiction when covering hard news. That might help explain how she got away with it for so long. Then, too, fictional sources don’t call up the editor to complain.

Still, you have to wonder if anyone either inside or outside the newsroom harbored suspicions. This is a big deal — as bad as Mike Barnicle, Patricia Smith and Jayson Blair. The only difference is that Jeffrey’s downfall is playing out on a smaller stage. Count me as one observer who would like to know more.

Jim Romenekso covers the scandal here; Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon has more here; Walter Brooks of Cape Cod Today indulges in a little schadenfreude here.

Rupert Murdoch, believe it or not, actually owns the Times, a consequence of his having bought the Wall Street Journal and its affiliated properties five years ago. Boston Herald owner Pat Purcell, a Murdoch protégé, is involved in managing the Times and other Murdoch-owned community papers.

Jeffrey’s reign of error began many years before the Murdoch era. But it will be interesting to see whether Purcell is heard from as this story unfolds.

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  1. Why do you suppose the publisher’s apology letter lists the reporter’s age? Just kind of an oddball detail, unless there were two longtime reporters named Karen Jeffrey at the CCT; this isn’t exactly a police log. Anyway, it’s a sad end to a long career.

  2. Such a sad thing to happen at such a good newspaper.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Gail: Lots of good people there. What Jeffrey did is no reflection on them, but I can’t help but wonder how many were suspicious.

      • L.K. Collins

        It appears that the Cape Cod Times will retain its reputation as a good newspaper. The paper is handling this matter the way these matters should be.

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