The Connecticut SPJ has asked SPJ member, “media lawyer and Syracuse professor” Roy S. Gutterman to “conduct the independent investigation” of Paresh Jha’s two stories that won awards from the Connecticut SPJ last month, according to a letter sent to iMediaEthics by the Connecticut SPJ’s president Cindy Simoneau. Simoneau wrote in an e-mail to iMediaEthics that the letter was sent to the club’s members.
Jha was, as we have written, fired by the New Canaan News for fabrications earlier this month. The Connecticut SPJ issued a statement June 26 about Jha’s fabrication, saying it “condemns” ethical breaches and that it was looking into taking “any action” on Jha’s fabrication, as we wrote.
According to the letter, signed by the Connecticut SPJ’s officers, the Connecticut SPJ:
“Immediately contacted Hearst Connecticut Newspapers, owner of the New Canaan News, asking if any portion of these award-winning entries were fabricated. David McCumber, editorial director for Hearst Connecticut Newspapers, who responded within half an hour, said that their investigation verified facts and sources in the feature story. Their investigation, however, found fabrications in one of the three stories in the series. Meanwhile, the Connecticut SPJ board began deliberations on whether to rescind the award(s) and/or to conduct our own independent investigation of the entries.”
During a June 28 Connecticut SPJ board meeting, the board “authorized” Gutterman to “to contact any individuals or organizations necessary to complete the investigation and make recommendations to the board on possible actions on the awards,” including possibly taking back the awards.
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According to the letter, Gutterman’s investigation should be done by the end of July and then the club “will consider whether to act on the awards.”
As earlier, the club reminded its members that plagiarism is unacceptable and noted it might conduct “professional programs on this topic.”
See the full June 29 letter here on the Connecticut SPJ’s website.
Poynter wrote about this letter yesterday.