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UH-Manoa newspaper reporter allegedly faked interview subjects


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POSTED: Thursday, June 25, 2009

The University of Hawaii at Manoa student newspaper says it's been unable to identify the existence of 29 people quoted in stories by a reporter over the past 17 months.

The Ka Leo newspaper issued a correction yesterday after reviewing all its stories between January 2008 and last month.

The newspaper says it's unable to find university records for 21 of the people. For eight other names, the newspaper found students with the same or similar names who were not enrolled as students at the time they were quoted.

Pacific Business News reported a search of the Ka Leo archive showed the stories were written by Kris DeRego, who was the paper's previous news editor. He no longer writes for Ka Leo.

Attempts to reach DeRego were unsuccessful.

The student newspaper's correction did not name DeRego but said the student reporter is no longer with Ka Leo.

Ka Leo faculty adviser Jay Hartwell said the student reporter has not provided verification of the people he quoted, although he was given the opportunity at meetings with the new Ka Leo editor this month.

“;Ka Leo's professional staff was unable to find UH records for 21 of the people quoted in the newspaper,”; the correction said. “;For eight other names, there were students with same or similar names but they were not enrolled as students at the time they were quoted.”;

Hartwell said he started the scrutiny in April when “;I found a quote that was too good to be true”; in his review of stories in the student paper. He invoked a new rule that calls for writers to provide e-mail addresses and telephone numbers for people quoted.

Hartwell, who did not name DeRego, said the reporter gave new editor Mark Brislin e-mail addresses of his sources but only one person responded to Brislin.

DeRego won awards in the annual University of Hawaii Board of Publications competition, which was judged this year by members of the Honolulu Advertiser and Pacific Business News.

According to his MySpace entry, DeRego is a 2000 graduate of Castle High School and is majoring in political science, speech and philosophy.

DeRego was a candidate for the state Board of Education in 2006.

Allegations of theft by a former employer came to light during the campaign.

In June 2006, DeRego was served with a three-year restraining order sought by a former female friend. The order was dissolved shortly after it was issued.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.