Poytner Finds More Fabricated Stories by Hearst: Shows Deeper Editorial Problems

UPDATE 6-26-12: Poytner’s Silverman found another made up story by Paresh Jha that the Hearst editors haven’t identified yet. He wrote this morning he’s going to stay on the story until Hearst starts answering questions and details which stories are made up so the reader can figure out what’s news v. fiction. Now that’s my kind of Journalist!

It looks like Hearst editorial director for Connecticut, David McCumber, is dealing with more than just made up quotes from his recently fired reporter. Craig Silverman over at Poytner has found what appears to be an entire made up story. One with funny last names that should have stood out for his managing editor’s spot check, who Silverman points out could have easily done a white pages check. Something the Poytner journalist took only a few hours to figure out!

This goes to show McCumber has some more explaining to do and the journalism watchdogs over at Poytner think he hasn’t been transparent enough with his readers. But it’s not just his readers McCumber is going to have to answer too. Bigger brass at Hearst Corp could be placing a microscope over his editorial practices because he’s up for leaving the CT newspapers to get a job as head of investigative reporting for all of Hearst papers. Well that’s according to a single source that is somewhat senior within the Hearst Newspapers group.

When I asked McCumber if this was true I got a quick no comment email from him. But then he went on to say “investigative reporting is done on the local level at our newspapers and is the purview of the individual editors, and I don’t expect that to change.”

Humm, except during my time on staff at Greenwich Time it was McCumber who brought in a seasoned journalist who had worked under him at the Seattle PI (Hearst shut down the paper) to do rookie reporter training. The journalist was working as an investigative reporter for all of Hearst newspapers…so it would make sense that McCumber’s been trying to push the idea of a central investigative reporting unit and create some sort of new job to get the heck out of CT. Remember McCumber was arrested for a DUI last year and court records show he made a deal on the charges. It’s unclear if that meant keeping his drivers license.

Jurno Awards, like the one the fired reporter Paresh Jha won last month, make editors look good. Paresh even boasted about how hard the New Canaan News team works last month when he won the award from the Connecticut Society of Professional journalist. Except now we learn the hard work was coming up with made up sources.

The weekly New Canaan News paper doesn’t have a high circulation in town – Most residents read The Advertiser which is owned by the town’s Treasure, and a long time Republican, Hersham. So Paresh’s reporting honors could have really helped the weekly gain credibility. But now that we know he was violating a fundamental rule of journalism to get colorful stories it’s going to be hard to earn the town’s respect back. So Hearst officials will likely be looking at where the process broke down and what drove the lack of editorial inspection if they plan to move the EIC out and on to a new shiny job.


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  1. Love the updates Teri. Do you know if he embellished on any of the crime stories he covered in New Canaan. Scary thought if that is true.

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