USA Today removes 23 stories from UGA grad over ‘fabricated’ quotes

Gabriela Miranda, a 2021 UGA graduate, resigned from USA Today after an internal investigation found irregularities in her reporting that indicated quotes and sources that could not be verified. MUCK RACK

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Gabriela Miranda, a 2021 UGA graduate, resigned from USA Today after an internal investigation found irregularities in her reporting that indicated quotes and sources that could not be verified. MUCK RACK

A University of Georgia graduate resigned from USA Today following an internal investigation into her work revealed “fabricated” quotes.

The publication removed 23 stories from its website written by Gabriela Miranda, a breaking news reporter for USA Today who graduated from the University of Georgia in 2021. The New York Times broke the news of the investigation, which spanned several weeks after USA Today received an inquiry related to the veracity of details in an article Miranda wrote.

Michael McCarter, USA Today’s managing editor of standards, wrote that an audit of her work “revealed that some individuals quoted were not affiliated with the organizations claimed and appeared to be fabricated. The existence of other individuals quoted could not be independently verified. In addition, some stories included quotes that should have been credited to others.”

USA Today released a list of headlines of the removed articles written by Miranda including “Washington, DC couples call wedding dance ban excessive,” “Texas abortion ban could lead to stockpiling contraceptives and pregnancy tests,” and “Georgia redistricting pits Democratic incumbents against each other in May primary.”

The publication said it strives “to be accurate and factual” and “regrets this situation.” In the future, it will try to make it easier for people to “lodge complaints or request corrections” and it will “ensure stories have clear and sufficient identifying information for individuals quoted.”

Miranda started with USA Today as a trending news reporter in April 2021 focused on viral stories before moving to breaking news earlier this year, she told a Society of Professional Journalists panel in March. She began working with USA Today even before she graduated from UGA in May, 2021, she said. “I felt very grateful and privileged to have the job,” she said.

According to a brief bio on The Red and Black website, “Gabriela Miranda worked as a reporter and campus news editor for The Red & Black from 2019-2021. Before graduating in May 2021, reported on race, protests, health and campus news.”

During college, she received a Google News fellowship and partnered with a bilingual outlet in California, Miranda said during the panel. She also said she did an internship at Fox 5 (WAGA-TV) and freelanced at The Gainesville Times.

Her last story with USA Today was April 17.

Miranda’s LinkedIn page was recently deleted.

Other reporters at major papers have lost their jobs over similar infractions including The Washington Post’s Janet Cooke in 1981, who made up a story about an eight-year-old heroin addict; The New York Times’ Jayson Blair in 2003, who made up stories and plagiarized others; and USA Today reporter Jack Kelley in 2004.