National Public Radio revealed that its freelance reporter Danielle Karson recycled interviews without disclosure “in at least 30 reports” since 2011. Karson’s work will no longer be used by NPR, which is still investigating, according to a statement from acting senior vice president for news and editorial director Christopher Turpin, standards editor Mark Memmott and acting vice president for news programming Sarah Gilbert.
“Listeners would have thought those persons were commenting on the day’s news when in fact the comments had been made months or sometimes years earlier,” the statement explained. “That was misleading and not in line with NPR’s editorial standards. Most of Karson’s reports for NPR were short stories about widely reported news – economic indicators and weather events, for example. So far, the investigation has not turned up evidence that Karson got the basic facts wrong in any report.”
NPR provided an example from a 2014 interview of a source talking about rainfall that Karson then used, without disclosing the quote was old and related to a different story, in three other stories from 2015 and 2017.
iMediaEthics has asked NPR if it it will publish editor’s notes on any affected online stories and if Karson provided any explanation for her actions. In an e-mail to iMediaEthics, Karson said she didn’t have a full statement yet but emphasized, “there’s a huge difference between violating company policy and ethical violations. So the punishment should fit the crime.”
NPR explained how it found out about the problem, noting that Karson’s position as a freelancer working with different shifts over longer periods of time made it easier to miss. “It wasn’t until this week that a producer and editor who had recently worked with Karson on a story realized that the reporter was trying to reuse some material. That prompted the ongoing review of reports Karson has filed over the years,” NPR said.
Karson told NPR ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen she was “heartbroken” about losing her gig with NPR, “but actions have consequences when they disrespect the bond with the public.”