My response to the Guardian's false accusations. Thanks to all for the support
The Guardian newspaper published today, May 26, a statement that states, wrongfully, that I "fabricated" quotes, stories and that I did not attend events that I did. I have always had respect and admiration for the Guardian and their staff and I was thrilled to be the only regular reporter based in San Francisco for a few months last year. It was one of the most fruitful experiences of my life, which I cherished greatly.
These accusations are incorrect and I have provided evidence showing that many sources had in fact spoken with me and either did not remember or refused to be truthful. Granted many of these sources had been spoken with months or years in the past.
I want to state for the record my response to the Guardian's version of events:
The Guardian says that they found articles that "contained likely or confirmed fabrication, including stories about two events that organizers said he didn’t attend." I know of one specific event that I attended and to tell me I wasn't there is not only wrong, but insulting. Their article also says that "several people quoted in Mayton’s articles either denied speaking with him or giving the quotes attributed to them." I have given evidence, including the phone record requested by Guardian editors and emails, from sources who claimed I did not speak to them.
A number of interviews I conducted occurred in public at protests or on the street. My notes are gone as I did not keep them or they have been lost, which sadly, included the interviews and contact information. Obviously, that was my mistake and my responsibility. If the Guardian had asked for those earlier or requested more information when articles went live (or before), I could have provided it easily, as I have always worked with editors and any request, including contact information and sources' full names as they were given to me.
I first met with the editors in February to discuss an article that sources said I fabricated. I then met with one editor in Palo Alto on the record where we discussed many of the issues. After that I provided the phone record and emails of sources showing their assertions to be incorrect. To say I did not go on the record is wrong.
Freelancers are sometimes expendable. If a top company with weight claims something, a freelancer better have all details required. I have given all the available evidence that I can now give to the Guardian, but the sources appear to have gone back on what they said to me. I wish I had taken audio recordings of all interviews as this would have solved all of this. A life lesson I am now learning. Sometimes, sources go back on their statements and the only way to prove what they said is with an audio recording, which I failed to do, and because the freelancer only has their word, they are the ones who will be scapegoated, as I feel this is the case here. I should have recorded the interview, which I did on other occasions. I take responsibility for that.
I admit that I did not do a solid job of keeping records older than a few months and that is my mistake and I am responsible for it. I, like everyone else in our profession, has made mistakes. But that is different than accusing someone of fabricating stories that took days to complete. But I am confident that I never did. I understand that in today's world, attacking reporters over their work is commonplace, but I never lied or fabricated sources in any story with the Guardian and to be accused of this is wrong and an attack on freelancers who struggle daily for a story, often going and talking to people on the ground that staffers are not doing.
Not only was I blindsided be this, having been told that they would do this less than 24 hours before it went live, I believe that the evidence that I was able to provide showed that I did not fabricate anything, and in fact, had worked as hard as possible with the available information and details I could remember and provide.
This is a warning to other freelancers to get all contact information, phone numbers and emails, of anyone you speak to, even at a protest or public event, and record everything.
The claim that I fabricated stories is wrong.