Village Voice Retracts Columbia J. School Grad's Story With Made-Up Sources

Tough week at the Voice.

Editor Tony Ortega pulled an article called “For-Profit Blues,” about proprietary colleges leaving low-income students with piles of debt but no degree, from The Village Voice‘s website yesterday. Freelance writer and Columbia Journalism School student grad Rob Sgobbo allegedly made up two sources: Berkeley College student “Tamicka Bourges” and spokesman “Matt Fraser.” The Voice was alerted by Berkeley College that they had no record of either person. The piece appeared in an education supplement.

Full text below.

Freelance writer Rob Sgobbo’s article “For-Profit Blues” was removed from the website after the Voice learned that Sgobbo had invented a character, “Tamicka Bourges,” who claimed she had amassed a large debt at Berkeley College without obtaining a degree.

We first learned that there might be a problem when Berkeley College denied that one of its spokespersons, Kelly Meisberger, had spoken to Sgobbo. Berkeley later added that it had no record of Bourges as a student. At about the same time, the GAO called to inform us that there was no spokesperson there named “Matt Fraser,” whom the story quoted.

The Voice apologizes sincerely to Berkeley College and the GAO that this false material appeared in our education supplement.

Tony Ortega
The Village Voice :: @kstoeffel