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Columnist Kept Despite Making It Up

April 24, 2005|David Shaw | Times Staff Writer

Mitch Albom, the bestselling author and longtime sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press, will resume writing for the paper and will not be fired for having written a column describing events that didn't happen, the paper announced Saturday in a Page 1 "Letter to Readers."

Carole Leigh Hutton, editor and publisher of the Free Press, said in the open letter that unspecified disciplinary action had been taken against Albom and four other Free Press employees, "each of whom had the responsibility to fix errors before publication."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday April 25, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 62 words Type of Material: Correction
Mitch Albom -- An article in Sunday's Section A said author and sports columnist Mitch Albom had been placed on an unpaid leave of absence by the Detroit Free Press after writing a column in which he said two former Michigan State basketball players had attended a game they didn't attend. In fact, Albom was placed on a paid leave of absence.

Albom, the author of "Tuesdays With Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," wrote a column for the Sunday, April 3, Free Press that was based in part on interviews conducted with two former Michigan State basketball players who planned to attend Michigan State's game against the University of North Carolina on Saturday, April 2.

Albom filed his column Friday afternoon for publication in the Sunday commentary section. He described the former players' attendance at the game in the past tense as if it had already happened. But that section of the Sunday paper was printed before the game, and the two players wound up not going.

Albom wrote -- and the Free Press published -- an apology, and he was placed on an unpaid leave. His columns have not appeared since.

In Saturday's "Letter to Readers," Hutton said Free Press management had "completed its internal review" of Albom's April 3 column. "We took into account many factors, including the seriousness of the offense, the importance of our credibility, the history of those involved and Albom's 20 stellar years at the Free Press."

She said two internal investigations arising from the April 3 column were continuing, and the results of one of those inquiries would be published in the paper "as soon as it is ready."

Editor's Note: David Shaw's "Media Matters" column on Page E14 of Sunday Calendar examines the Albom controversy. That section of The Times was printed Wednesday, before the Free Press made its decision on Albom.

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