Jack Kelley was in the wrong. He broke the cardinal rule of being an ethical journalist. He lied, he didn't didn't seek truth and as a matter of fact he didn't seek anything considering he made his stories up.
He lifted quotes without attribution. He plagiarized, embellished and at times fabricated stories on foreign-terrorism. He also produced scripts and gave them to associates in the event that he got caught so they could confirm his sources under false pretenses.
these actions go directly against the SPJ code of ethics. Even though he gained national recognition and Pulitzer prize nominations, he failed to act as an ethical journalist. Every reporter should put truth first and self second. his decisions ultimately cost him his career and reputation.
We also think that USA Today was partially in the wrong for not checking his sources. they to sought to be recognized and failed to act as a reputable media source. Although deadlines may have been a factor, even an after the fact checking of sources could have stopped this situation before it snowballed into the situation it did. Although USA is the nations largest newspaper, the situation could have cost them all more than just a damaged reputation had it gone any further than it did.
Our decision came about because as journalists, we are taught from the beginning not to fabricate stories, or plagiarize. Truth is the basis of journalism.