Weather Updates

Sun-Times Media fires photographer for using fake names and quotes, company says

Updated: August 21, 2012 6:34AM

A Sun-Times Media photographer was fired Thursday after admitting she used fake names and quotes in numerous Pioneer Press “Question of the Week” photo essays published this year, the company said.

Photographer Tamara Bell’s “employment with our company has been terminated,” according to a statement from Pioneer Press Publisher Chris Krug.

At least 43 photos and related captions that ran in 11 separate “Question of the Week” features since March were found to be problematic following a company probe launched by a reader complaint, Sun-Times Media said.

The photos and captions ran in some Pioneer Press publications as well as the Lake County News-Sun. The publications are all part of Sun-Times Media, which also includes the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bell admitted to 22 fabrications, Sun-Times Media said.

In his statement, Krug called the conduct “absolutely unacceptable.”

“Recently, the Pioneer Press learned that a photographer on our staff has produced false photo essays on numerous occasions for the ‘Question of the Week,’ a regularly occurring feature,” Krug said.

“This is absolutely unacceptable.

“The photographer admitted to producing false photo essays that appeared in the Deerfield Review, Highland Park News, Morton Grove Champion, Niles Herald-Spectator, Norridge-Harwood Heights News, [Oak Park] Oak Leaves, Park Ridge Herald-Advocate and Western Springs Doings,” Krug said.

“The Pioneer Press is committed to accurately covering the stories of our local communities and readers, and we apologize for this breach of trust.

“The photographer’s employment with our company has been terminated, and we have instituted new measures in an effort to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Bell could not be reached for comment Thursday. A union representative declined to comment.

The revelation comes on the heels of the Chicago Tribune’s indefinite suspension of its use of content provided by Journatic, a third-party news provider. The Tribune said Friday that elements of a Journatic-produced sports story published last week had parts that were fabricated and plagiarized. Part of the story contained a quote that was originally published in a Pioneer Press article, the Tribune said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.