USA Today Published Articles Containing Fabricated Quotes, Plagiarized Passages: Audit

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
June 16, 2022 Updated: June 17, 2022

USA Today has removed nearly two dozen articles from its website after an audit uncovered fabricated quotes and passages that were plagiarized, the news outlet said on June 16.

A request from an outside party for a correction triggered the audit of work done by reporter Gabriela Miranda, USA Today said on its website.

“The audit 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,” the outlet said.

As a result, USA Today removed 23 articles from its website.

Miranda resigned, according to the outlet.

She did not respond to requests for messages. She has deleted her Twitter account and her Instagram page is private.

Miranda’s bio on USA Today’s website says she is a breaking news and “NOW” reporter.

According to her own website, Miranda is a “News Now” reporter for USA Today, covering “trending news” in the United States.

She previously worked for The Gainesville Times, The Red & Black, and Vida Newspaper. The Gainesville time declined to comment. The other outlets did not respond to queries.

Miranda states on her site that her fluency in Spanish “has helped me write, translate, and speak to sources within the Latinx and Hispanic community.”

“We strive to be accurate and factual in all our content and regret this situation. We will continue to reinforce and strengthen our reporting and editing diligence and processes,” USA Today said, including through improving the process for people who want to file complaints or request corrections and making sure that reporters properly credit competitors for their work.

Miranda’s last story was dated April 17.

Rebecca Aguilar, president of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), told The Epoch Times in an email that the situation “should be a learning opportunity for all journalists and a reminder that we should follow the SPJ Code of Ethics.”

The code includes: seek the truth and report it. Which every journalist should strive for every time they report a story,” Aguilar said. “This is a very unfortunate situation, but USA Today is making a positive move in removing the stories and explaining to readers that they will continue to strive to do better. I hope in the process, USA Today will improve its team of editors, who should be double-checking all the information before it goes out to the public.”

The removed articles included pieces with the headlines, “Anti-vaxxer pushes urine therapy as ‘COVID antidote’ without scientific evidence”; “‘Friends are also family’: How the unofficial holiday Friendsgiving has grown”; and “‘That’s on TikTok, not our menu’: Starbucks baristas can make viral drink orders but need time and patience.”

Others covered songs chanted at Cuba protests, celebrations of the Cinco de Mayo holiday in the United States, and the most popular liquors for Christmas.

Every story now has no text, other than an editor’s note that states, “This story has been removed from our platforms because it does not meet our standards.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.