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USA Today reporter quits after investigation

Pulitzer Prize finalist Jack Kelley has resigned from USA Today following a company investigation into the veracity of his stories.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Pulitzer Prize finalist Jack Kelley has resigned from USA Today following a company investigation into his stories.

The newspaper’s editor, Karen Jurgensen, declined to comment on the investigation in announcing Kelley’s resignation Wednesday. Neither did she say what led to the scrutiny.

But she said the paper does not plan to correct any of his stories at this time.

The Washington Post reported in Thursday’s editions that Kelley, who resigned Tuesday,  had been accused in an anonymous letter of falsifying stories.

Kelley, a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist in beat reporting for his series on centers of foreign terrorism, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. His home telephone number was not available.

In an interview with the Post, Kelley denied any wrongdoing. “Recent allegations were raised in the form of an anonymous letter, but they were proven to be false, as evidenced by the fact that no retraction or correction has been published,” he said. “Nonetheless, USA Today and I have decided to go separate ways and I wish USA Today all the best.”

Kelley has been under scrutiny since June, the Post said, and another USA Today reporter, Mark Memmott, was assigned to try to verify Kelley’s earlier work. Seven stories initially were selected but only four were examined, the newspaper said.

Kelley, 43, told colleagues he resigned because he felt the atmosphere had become too hostile for him to continue working at the paper, the Post reported.

He began his career at USA Today as a news assistant after graduating from the University of Maryland in 1982.

Kelley has since reported from 90 countries as a foreign correspondent, covering the Persian Gulf War, the Rwanda massacre and famine in Somalia. He also co-authored two books with USA Today founder Al Neuharth, both published in 1989.