At the request of Technology Review, Inc., Susan Rasky agreed to oversee the fact checking of 10 articles by Michelle Delio that TR published online between December 16, 2004, and March 7, 2005. After conducting their own review, the editors at Technology Review had concerns regarding some of the sources and quotations in these articles.
Click here to see the report findings. What follows below is Delio’s responses to questions raised during the course fo the interview. Click here to read Appendix A: The Investigation Findings. Click here to read Appendix B: The Future Shock and here to read Appendix C: The Invisible Fighter.
This correspondence was conducted via email. Included is Delio’s introduction.
Hope you had a good weekend. Attached is a word document with my replies to your questions below.
As I’ve explained to the absolute horror of others who have been reviewing my stories, I don’t retain emails from sources that I don’t intend to call on again for comments. And the vast majority of my interviews are done by email.
In retrospect, especially given my current situation, I realize that I should have simply dumped every single email pertaining in any way to every story onto some dark corner of my hard drive or – as one reporter I checked with suggested – pasted them into the copy document and burned them onto a CD. But until now I’ve been a pretty ruthless pruner of documents and data.
I typically get a lot of emails in response to my wired news stories, and if the mail comes from someone who is offering to be a source, or who has made an interesting comment about the story I move those messages over into a temporary ‘holding’ file which is futher subdivided. When I need a quick comment I check this file.
Unless a new-to-me source gives me some great insights I tend to use them once (like any reporter I also have my ‘usual’ sources who I count on) and I don’t retain the emails past the point where I assume any questions that might be raised regarding a story would have already been asked. I never, even in my worst nightmares, thought that I’d need to go back and ‘resurrect’ sources from stories that had run months ago.
Obviously, if I’m allowed to continue on as a journalist, I’ll keep a file on everyone who is quoted in any of my stories. On the other hand, I’m having a hard time in some cases finding sources who I did keep records on – people change their email address, switch from landline phones to wireless or VOIP, change their physical locations, and it becomes difficult to find them months or years down the road.
Please let me know if you need further info on the attached or anything else. The quickest way to reach me is always email – I don’t check voice messages as often.
1. Can you tell us the names and contact information for the two unnamed sources in the HP Carly’s Gone story?2. What is the contact information for Keith Abrams, the engineer in the HP Carly’s Gone story?
Brad King was specifically told that those sources needed to remain anonymous when he first discussed doing the story with me. If that was a problem – or if Brad needed to know their names and get contact info to vet them – the time to discuss it was prior to publication, when sources had a chance to opt out of being quoted. But now, given the problems surrounding that piece, the attention its gotten, and the fact that MIT Tech Review is known to have worked with HP in an attempt to track G.S down, my sources would prefer to remain anonymous. While it puts me in a very awkward and embarrassing position, I don’t blame them. I will not provide further information on that piece.
(Web editor Brad King responds: Technology Review, Inc. believes this independent report is an accurate portrayal of Michelle Delio’s reporting; however, we take exception to her assertion that our investigation led to her sources’ refusal to step forward. We did not contact Hewlett-Packard regarding G.S. for ten days after the company initially raised concerns over the source on March 8, 2005. During that time period, we determined the G.S. biographical information Delio provided was false, that the contact information she provided for G.S. would not elicit a response, and that others in his stated field of occupation could not verify his existence.)
3. Did you interview Henrik Hedegaard from Aahrus University in Denmark? (On-line? by phone?)
Blair MacIntyre, the primary source in the piece, sent an email to his mailing list of people who use DART and forwarded me their comments. You can verify that with Blair, (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED)