A newspaper investigation of a former columnist for The Sacramento Bee could not verify 43 sources she used in a sampling of 12 years of her work.
Diana Griego Erwin resigned May 11 as she came under scrutiny about the existence of people she quoted. She has denied making up information, but Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez said the Bee should have been able to locate the people named in the stories.
“It kills us that we can’t,” said Rodriguez, whose comments were included in a story about the investigation published in Sunday’s Bee. “We still hope they will turn up, but we’re presenting the facts as we found them. Obviously, we feel strongly that we should have been able to find these individuals.”
Griego Erwin, who has said her resignation was for personal reasons, joined the Bee after a distinguished career at other newspapers. She worked on a project that won a Pulitzer Prize at the Denver Post in 1986 and also won a George Polk award and the 1990 commentary prize from the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
The discrepancies in Griego Erwin’s work were discovered after the Bee tightened its anonymous sources policy and questioned whether columnists were given too much latitude.
Griego Erwin declined to be interviewed for the Bee’s article but responded by e-mail.
“The story has been told and I am sad that The Bee continues to pursue this,” she wrote. “Surely there are more important stories out there than another about me. I know there are. Even now, I come across them every day.”