Argus Leader Fake news/Intern firing story getting more on-line coverage, as reporter seemingly blames Argus staff.

The Argus Leader fake news/intern firing story is taking on a further life of it’s own after a website pursued the story to identify the author of the 11 articles that the Argus Leader pulled after determining that some of the information in them might be questionable.

In the article, surprisingly, the reporter cast some of the blame back on the Argus staff, claiming “the assignment should have never been assigned” to her, “nor was it looked over or questioned by an editor before publishing.”

Really? (I’m not buying that excuse, either):

The Sioux Falls newspaper, which is owned by Gannett and part of the USA Today network, fired the intern reporter, Allie Knofczynski, but didn’t name her, after a local school principal cried foul, stating she was never interviewed for a May 31 story in which she was quoted. The Argus Leader published a June 1 note announcing a review into the reporter’s work and retraction of the May 31 article quoting the principal.

When iMediaEthics contacted Knofczynski to learn more, despite having blogged and tweeted about the incident, she claimed privacy and blocked us on Twitter.


iMediaEthics wrote to Myers to ask why the newspaper didn’t name the reporter in question, what the reporter’s position was, and what the review of the articles will include.


“If you could please leave me alone, I’d appreciate it,” she e-mailed. “My life and work does not concern you. If you must know, I talked with a secretary at the front desk but rushed through the assignment to keep up. However, the assignment should have never been assigned to me, nor was it looked over or questioned by an editor before publishing.” She added, “Just FYI, I have blocked and reported your tweets. I hope you can respect my privacy.”

iMediaEthics responded, asking why she is now claiming privacy and blocking and reporting tweets given that she publicly tweeted and blogged about the incident.

Read that here. (Check out the link, as it’s an interesting story.)

The tweet they’re mentioning links to the blogpost in question…

What were they citing when they mentioned she blogged about it? Knofczynski did express her thoughts about the environment she was working under (which we might assume was the Argus) on her own website:

And I was ready to do anything to make up for my mistake, by the way. Recant the article, write a public apology, do anything. Nothing could apparently solve this. Being fired is a “learning experience,” but how am I supposed to learn by getting kicked to the curb? If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I’m not cut out for hard-news journalism if it means navigating cut-throat political games and fast-paced perfection. That’s not me.

Read that here.

A different website,, covering the Argus Leader action against the intern also noted..

Although Knofczynski is not listed on The Argus Leader’s staff page, a Twitter user by the name of Allie Knofczynski describes herself as a student at the University of South Dakota in the nearby town of Vermillion. According to her Twitter bio, she’s the opinion editor at The Volante, the student-run newspaper at the University of South Dakota.

Ally Krupinsky, the editor in chief of The Volante, declined to comment on Knofczynski’s status at the newspaper. Knofczynski is listed as the author of dozens of articles for The Volante, the last of which is dated May 1.

Read that here.

Was it a simple mistake that was blown all out of proportion? Should an Argus editor have questioned it before publication?  Is the Argus a den of “cut-throat political games and fast-paced perfection'” as the author seems to claim?

What do you think?

Update…  In case you’re curious, here’s a partial list of the “hard-news journalism” stories authored by this intern that are no longer available on their website:

Two local students competing at National Spelling Bee

Free pizza for life? It’s a revolutionary idea

Tote-ally Gorgeous Boutique closing next month

Walmart adding online grocery option in Sioux Falls

School plants tree to remember special education …

Highway signs to honor fallen patrolman

Pizza Patrol closing in eastern Sioux Falls

Carpenter Bar offers cozy setting, classic tastes.

26 thoughts on “Argus Leader Fake news/Intern firing story getting more on-line coverage, as reporter seemingly blames Argus staff.”

  1. I would expect an intern to have all the work at least looked over by a ‘seasoned’ reporter and at least one editor before going live, or sent to the presses.

    I would also expect them to follow a reporter for at least a week before given an assignment on their own.

    I would hope the Argus Leader would help this young author, help her understand the error in ways and help her to deal with it.

    I would say there number of fails on all sides of this issue.

  2. I think she’s a twenty-year-old kid. I think she probably knew better. I think she got caught. I think the Argus should supervise their interns more closely.

    One other thought: as much as they want transparency from everyone else, the Argus hadn’t been very transparent about this. They hold themselves out as performing a service in the public interest. They want special treatment, legal protection, and others to do work for free for their benefit.

    But whenever something like this happens, suddenly they are a private business again and it’s nobody else’s business.

  3. I would think an editor of a college newspaper should at least know the basics of reporting, like not making up quotes.

    Does she really expect her editors to call every person she interviews and ask “Did you really talk to our reporter or is she lying?”

    Her journalism career is over. Hello attorney.

  4. This is all on her. She is an adult and now an educated professional. The primary role of an editor is ask questions which ensure the article is properly balanced, fair, informative and relevant. Not question the veracity and honesty of the reporter.

    That said, an entity which harasses others for not being transparent must practice transparency.

    1. I wouldn’t defend her but I also wouldn’t say “this is all on her”. If the Argus is going to be so insistent on hiring college-aged summer interns to do a good chunk of their reporting, they should be doing a better job of supervising them. However, that may be hard given the cuts they’ve made to their newsroom staff and the fact that most of their reporters are barely older than this girl.

      I would also say that summer internships are supposed to be learning experiences. You need to make sure you’re giving them assignments that are not over their head and you also need to make sure that you review and critique all of their work to help them learn the trade (especially when it looks like she was only 2 weeks or so into her internship. you give more independence as they prove themselves). And in the case of a fairly large mistake like this, I think it could’ve been used as an additional learning experience. If she was truly willing to make a public apology, the Argus could’ve allowed her to and then said that we take seriously the mission of training the next generation of journalists and we think helping her learn that this is not an acceptable practice for journalists will make her a better reporter in the future. This could’ve been a character building moment.

      Instead, I get the impression they are embarrassed that their established checks and balances failed to catch repeated mistakes so in order to move past it they cut her loose and wiped their hands of the situation. Poor leadership on Myers’ part (which seems to be a pattern).

  5. It’s unfortunate, but entitlement and a “I am the victim” attitude is rampant with college students across America. AK knew she was printing a lie and knew that was wrong; I agree with opinions above. I also think it was probably a great fit for the liberal, lying media outlet also known on the streets as the Argus Leading Liar.

    I am wondering if the family involved in the #fakenews story can sue? Would sue? Maybe, taking a new path is exactly what the one-time journalist should consider.

  6. Look at her social media account Twitter…she is a liberal loon…has been indoctrinated with a liberal agenda…

    But what would you expect from a college indoctrinated “Journalist”…

  7. Three additional items:

    1). it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a moment to lose it.

    2). It is a shame to be so young and disgraced in one’s chosen field.

    3). Rehabilitation and rebuilding begins with admission and regret followed by the work of atonement

  8. I was really disappointed in her post. I do not think she learned anything from this experience. That is the career-ending mistake here. She comes off as being a child eager to blame everyone else for what happened. Worse yet, her excuses hinge on the fact that she cannot handle being a reporter and a writer with responsibilities. She makes a very good case as why another news organization should never hire her. As with the Argus, it is hypocritical to fire someone that is only a step removed from the quality of their everyday reporting.

    1. I’m not sure you’re aware, but you’re the one who is coming across as a tool.

  9. I, on the other hand, do believe she learned something, and was unfortunately punished beyond would I would expect. Having been an intern myself, I can honestly say that I made plenty of mistakes, but was fortunate enough to have an awesome mentor, with enough foresight and understanding to know that I would make those mistakes. I learned from them, and it made me a better because of it. Two weeks is not enough time to simply throw someone to the wolves and expect perfection. Were there mistakes? Absolutely! However, we hire interns to help them learn and grow (even from mistakes). Seems like the Argus went way to far firing her. I would never have made it past the first couple days of my internship if my employer had not given me the opportunity to fail, learn, and grow from the experience. Thank you to those employers who actually understand what an intern is.

  10. As a former reporter (5ish years with KELO) this is blatantly unacceptable. Do reporters get things wrong? Of course they do. Did I ever mess something up? Yep, sure did. However, there is a huge, huge difference between inadvertently misstating a fact, and completely making up and publishing a quote. There is a fairly involved class that every journalism major has to take called “ethics.” She obviously didn’t pay much attention. While it is bad enough on its face, what makes it worse is that she is now trying to point the finger at her employer. That’s not how it works. Working in the media is fast paces, cut throat, and at times, straight up ugly. She might want to find a different career path. I’d comment on her writing, but we can leave that alone for now.

    1. I want to add that I agree the Argus went way too far in firing her. Way overboard. But the blame is on her no matter what.

      1. Way overboard by firing her? She’ll be lucky if she’s not taken to court for slander. She’ll be lucky if she can ever have a career in the communications field ever again. Firing her was a given.

  11. There’s a story from an old movie or TV show where an editor is explaining to a young reporter the importance of truth in journalism…

    Seems that an elderly sports editor nearing retirement had been amusing himself for years by replacing the names of the umpires in the baseball box scores with obscene words in Latin. They type was very small, and few readers of the box scores in the U.S.-based newspaper understood Latin. Eventually, he was found out and fired. The point of the story? Every factual word (as opposed to opinion, which is subjective) in the newspaper must be demonstrably and objectively correct, or readers lose faith in the newspaper.

    The intern made committed a serious transgression which even a non-journalist knows is against the rules – “Don’t make stuff up and pass it off as real!”

    For the integrity of the newspaper, the intern could not be allowed to have her work appear in the newspaper again. Most media outlets have the “death penalty” – immediate termination – for plagiarism or knowingly publishing false or manufactured information.

    Could she have stayed as an editorial intern or do other internship work at the Argus? Perhaps, but there are the issues of personal and professional integrity as well as the act itself to be considered.

    It’s not the editor’s job to fact-check every quote, but there is a judgment call about how closely an intern and her work should be overseen by professional staff (reporters and editors).

    Her attitude is disturbing; a mea culpa would have been the correct response, and meaning it would have, more importantly, been the right thing.

  12. Seems to me that the Argus is now relying on cheap, inexperienced labor for their newsroom staff and it came back to bite them in the butt.

  13. Mistakes are doing something wrong because of inexperience or other extenuating circumstances.

    Intentionally violating journalism ethics she was understood is not a mistake. It is an intentional breach of the heart of being a journalist.

    Being fired is the only choice and anyone who doesn’t understand that should be fired immediately from whatever is their job as they are prima facie ethically untrustworthy.

  14. Her attitude reeks. “I was the scapegoat in a collateral mess over a little tree story.” In media, every single story matters, and every word in every story matters. Every time.

  15. She could get a job working for the SDDP. She would fit in perfectly with the Hard Left where it is always someone else’s fault and being a victim is celebrated and encouraged.

  16. Bob, you clearly are related or dating this person and your juvenile comments show your age. Yes she admitted she made a mistake, a mistake that has ended an “internship” which clearly displays that she is not ready for a career in this feild.
    Misquoting a source is journalism 101. You always triple check your facts and quotes. So please brush up your writing skills and quit with the sophomoric comments.

  17. Yeah, sorry about that. “Bob” posting from the IP address is gone.

    Those kind of hateful comments throwing around disability related slurs will get a person permanently banned.

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