The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) terminated reporter Alan Judd, following the fallout from his reporting on alleged sexual abuse within the University of Georgia’s football program.
The AJC came under fire for the June 27 article; the university penned a comprehensive letter to the newspaper, demanding the retraction of what it deemed as false allegations.
AJC Concedes Errors in Controversial Article About Abuse Allegations
While the paper refused to retract the story entirely, it conceded the original article did not uphold the newspaper’s journalistic standards.
The AJC rectified several elements of the article and appended a note to the story on July 19, 2023, indicating as follows:
“The title, subheading, and parts of this article’s content were altered after the AJC ascertained that some assertions within the initially published piece did not comply with AJC’s editorial standards.”
In a follow-up article, the AJC retracted the claim that 11 players remained with the team following the abuse allegations, noting it couldn’t verify a “specific tally of 11 players.”
Another correction happened after the AJC discovered that two quotes had been fused into one, even though they were spoken several minutes apart.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has fired the writer of a critical expose on Georgia football and issued corrections on its story. https://t.co/XpAnGkunwz
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) July 19, 2023
Yet, the AJC maintains the combination did not alter the meaning of the quote.
It clarified, “Linking the sentences did not alter the essence of the quote, yet the manner in which it was delivered to our readers did not live up to the AJC standards.”
Editor-in-Chief Offers Apologies to University and Readership for Oversight
Despite the termination of the reporter, the AJC maintained that the internal review found no instances of fabrications in the story, contrary to what the university’s letter suggested.
Editor-in-Chief Leroy Chapman emphasized the importance of editorial integrity, stating, “Our editorial integrity and the trust our community has in us is at the core of who we are.”
He further explained after receiving the university’s letter, a team of editors and lawyers was tasked with scrutinizing each claim, along with any supporting material for the original story.
The investigation uncovered errors which the newspaper promptly corrected.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says there were errors in the report that the University of Georgia's football protected players accused of sexual assault that "fell short of our standards." https://t.co/GMbfRJzeI7
— FOX 5 Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) July 20, 2023
Chapman, acknowledging the newspaper’s shortcomings in this instance, concluded the following:
“We are bound to the very standard we’ve set. It’s important to recognize when we don’t measure up. That is indeed the case here. Our heartfelt apologies are extended to the university and our readership for the oversights.”