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University of Minnesota newspaper fires sports reporter over faked interviews

The University of Minnesota newspaper has fired a student reporter after learning he fabricated interviews for three sports stories this month. The Minnesota Daily said Wednesday that it has added online corrections to two of Grant Donald's stori...

The University of Minnesota newspaper has fired a student reporter after learning he fabricated interviews for three sports stories this month.

The Minnesota Daily said Wednesday that it has added online corrections to two of Grant Donald's stories, deleted the third and was reviewing his other work.
Ben Gotz, the newspaper's sports editor, said the U's athletics communications director emailed July 9 to say swim coaches quoted in the previous day's paper didn't recall giving the interviews. When Donald didn't respond to questions about the interviews, the Daily removed the story from its website.
Donald met with Gotz on Sunday and admitted fabricating interviews for three stories, Gotz said. He said Donald admitted he faked:

  • Three interviews for a July 8 story on a swim coach's return to the U.
  • An interview with former U basketball star Trevor Mbakwe's new coach in Germany for another July 8 story.
  • An interview with a U track athlete for a July 1 story.

Gotz said a second track athlete later called to say Donald hadn't interviewed him either for the same story. The previous sports editor also raised concern about a fourth story by Donald that was published at the end of the past school year. Gotz said he was working with the U's sports information staff to verify past Donald stories.
"It is a lot of work, but we feel that it is necessary to ensure full disclosure by the Minnesota Daily," he said.
Gotz said Donald was hired in August and covered football, women's hockey and men's and women's track and field during the school year and general assignment sports stories this summer.
In June, Donald wrote two freelance stories on high school sports for the Pioneer Press, and staff was reviewing those stories.
Donald, an incoming junior in the U's journalism school, did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday.
A U spokesman said it's unlikely Donald would face academic discipline.
"This is an employment issue and not an academic one," Joe Koktan said.

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