The Houston Chronicle cannot find sources from reporter Mike Ward’s recent work, leading to Ward’s resignation from the newspaper.
Nancy Barnes, the newspaper’s executive editor, admitted the ethical problem in a Sept. 10 note explaining: “Another Houston Chronicle journalist flagged me with questions about the accuracy of a story written by veteran Austin reporter Mike Ward,” Barnes wrote. “Ward joined the Chronicle in 2014 after a long career with the Austin American-Statesman. Specifically, questions were raised about whether individuals quoted in one of his stories were real people.”
Barnes noted that Ward stands by his reporting, claiming his sources do exist but that he offered to resign; however, the Chronicle‘s researchers can’t find “a number of sources cited in Ward’s most recent reports.” She added that the Chronicle intends to publish its “full accounting of our findings” and that it has appointed an “independent, highly respected journalist to review Ward’s work for the last year, or further if necessary, and determine whether any reporting transgressions occurred.” Barnes declined to comment to iMediaEthics until the investigation s complete.
Debbie Hiott, the editor of the American-Statesman, told iMediaEthics that Ward’s LinkedIn profile says he worked for the newspaper for 25 years and “he left the paper in March 2014.”
“We have begun to review the most recent work he did for the Statesman,” Hiott told iMediaEthics. “Based on what we find, we will go back further. I am not aware of any concerns raised about Mike’s sourcing while at the Statesman.”
iMediaEthics has tweeted Ward for comment.
Last year, iMediaEthics wrote extensively about former New York crime reporter Kevin Deutsch. Reviews by iMediaEthics, the New York Times, Newsday, and others raised numerous questions about his reporting. For example, iMediaEthics was unable to verify the existence of more than a dozen of his sources; Newsday couldn’t locate 109 of his sources.