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The Daily O’Collegian is sorry one of their reporters was caught making up shit for news stories…

4:29 PM EDT on October 10, 2013

scot templeton

Season 5 of The Wire must be really popular on the OSU campus.

The Daily O'Collegian, the student-run newspaper for Oklahoma State University, issued an editorial retraction and apology for several stories that recently appeared in the school's paper. Apparently, some lazy student reporter got bored and fabricated quotes and sources for news articles.

From The Daily O'Collegian:

As journalists, our sole purpose is to relentlessly pursue and present the truth, but last week, one of The Daily O’Collegian reporters violated that goal.

Over the course of two semesters, this reporter wrote six articles for the O’Colly and fabricated at least one and as many as five sources in three of the articles.

After finding discrepancies in one article and being unable to prove the existence of a source, the O’Colly staff fact-checked the other five articles and was unable to verify four more sources.

In the article “Outdoor Adventure hosts ninth annual triathlon,” published Sept. 30, the reporter wrote a source participated in the swimming portion of the triathlon.

From the article: “Saturday’s race started with a swim in Lake Carl Blackwell that consisted of a down-and-out one-half mile into Turkey Hollow and finishing at Camp Redlands.

‘It’s safe to say that I am out of shape,’ psychology major Jackie Clay said. ‘I thought I was going to drown but at the same time, I was having so much fun.’”

The reporter’s deceit came to our attention via social media shortly after we posted the story online, when Twitter users informed us the swimming portion of the race was canceled....

The O’Colly staff found another student source in the same article and three student sources in two more articles who had no record of attending the university.

That's pathetic. For one, what out-of-shape person participates in a triathlon? And two, if you're going to make up sources for a stupid article about a triathlon, you should probably go all out and have fun with it. Even Jenni Carlson could write better copy than that. What other articles and quotes did this student who should obviously not pursue a career in creative writing or journalism fabricate?

In “Memorial run brings more than 2,000 runners,” an article reviewing the Remember the Ten run, published on April 21, the reporter wrote: “Carrie Hatcher, 31, remembers where she was, what she was doing, and her reaction when tragedy struck OSU’s campus that day.

“‘I was walking to my dorm room when I found out,’ Hatcher said. ‘My heart sank to my feet. I stood in shock for more than five minutes thinking about how I would never see my friend, Nathan, again.’”

Awkward! Making up a quote about a race is one thing, but doing it for an article about a somber tragedy takes a major set of balls. Who is this student and what's his or her fate???

Confronted with this information, the reporter admitted to fabricating the triathlon source Jackie Clay but denied making up the others.

This reporter was terminated from the O’Colly on Sept. 30.

The O’Colly editorial board anguished with the decision to print this reporter’s name, but we came to the conclusion that printing her name could ruin the rest of her life with a simple Google search. Instead, we concluded that ending her employment at the O’Colly and barring her from gaining experience, published articles and networking that is generally necessary to getting a job in the journalism world would be sufficient punishment. Her career after college is in her hands, but if a potential employer was to call us for a reference, we would fully disclose her dishonest actions.

I agree with the O'Collegian's decision to not reveal the student's identity. Now there's still a chance the person may get a job with The Oklahoman in a couple of years. Wouldn't that be awesome?

That being said, we're not the Daily O'Collegian. Our job is to uncover and report these things. Earlier this morning, we acquired through the Ogle Mole Network the name and Twitter account of the student accused of fabricating the stories. Her name is Christa Moss. She's a cute, 20-year-old journalism major from Tulsa. I sent her a Twitter DM and asked for a statement. Surprisingly, she replied back via email:

"I'd like to offer my sincere apologies to the Daily O'Collegian, Oklahoma State University, President Hargis, Mike Gundy and all my friends and family. There's no excuse for what I did. I take full responsibility for my actions, will learn from this experience, and will become a better person."

To which I replied, "Thanks for getting back so quick. Do you think the punishment is fair? How'd you find out?"

A few minutes later, Christa wrote, "I think the punishment is fair. You get what you sow. I was walking to my dorm room when I found out. My heart sank to my feet. I stood in shock for more than five minutes thinking about how I would never see the newsroom again. I have so many great memories there. After the 2011 Bedlam game, we smoked pot with football players until 2:00am. That was fun.”

I then asked her one final question: "What are your options?"

"I don't know," Moss replied. "I love journalism and want to stick with it, but I love OSU and want to stay here. Going to a different school will be tough. It depends on what the school decides."

To figure that out, I asked Clint Bowers, Dean of the Oklahoma State School of Journalism, if Moss would be given a second chance. "Ha. She'd probably have to sleep with me for that to happen!" he said. "In all honesty, her day's here are probably over. I'd suggest she pursue a career in public relations or marketing, but never say never if you know what I mean."

Oklahoma State student Caleb Cornett agrees, "If she were allowed to write for the paper, I wouldn't be able to tell what's fact and what's fiction. Like a national championship in football, that's just something we can't have."

I agree 100%.

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