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Writer Fired for Uncertain Sources

August 21, 1999

PHOENIX (AP) _ The Arizona Republic said Saturday it has dismissed a columnist because the newspaper’s editors were unable to substantiate some of her quoted sources.

Julie Amparano, a Republic reporter for five years, began writing ``Conversations″ in July.

``We have discovered that some of the people quoted in that column are untraceable,″ the Republic said in a four-paragraph, page-one announcement. ``We can’t find them or prove they exist. Nor has Amparano been able to substantiate those sources to date.″

Amparano denied any impropriety, the Republic said.

There was no comment from Amparano on Saturday; her home telephone number is unlisted.

Julia Wallace, managing editor of the Republic, said Saturday that the newspaper began investigating Amparano’s work on Wednesday when vague newsroom rumors surfaced that some column material had been fabricated.

She said the allegations involved several columns but declined to say which ones or how many sources were involved.

``We still have a little more work we want to do before we discuss specifics,″ Wallace said. ``We’ll be talking about it in our paper soon.″

The column, which ran three times a week in the Life section, featured interviews with average people in the community expressing their concerns and highlighting their accomplishments.

The last column, on Wednesday, was about an adult softball game in suburban Tempe.

Amparano joined the Republic in 1993, covering minority and immigration issues. She began her journalism career in 1984 at The Associated Press in San Francisco. Later, she worked for The Wall Street Journal in Philadelphia and New York.

Amparano’s dismissal follows several other high-profile cases in which columnists were accused of fabricating sources.

Last year, two Boston Globe columnists resigned after reports some column material was made up. Patricia Smith admitted to inventing characters in four of her columns. Mike Barnicle, long the newspaper’s marquee columnist, resigned amid suspicions he fabricated a column about two children hospitalized with cancer.

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