Before there was Jayson Blair, there was Michael Finkel. From New York mag, in March 2002:
Michael Finkel knew how to tell a story, and he told some great ones for The New York Times Magazineuntil last week, in an unprecedented editors’ note, the paper revealed that the title character of his November 18 story, ‘Is Youssouf Malé a Slave?,’ was actually a composite of several young men. Finkel, 33, was fired, leaving some to wonder if the Times had been too taken with his (too-hard-to-check) articles from such far-flung locales as the Ivory Coast, Gaza, and Haiti, where he famously had to be rescued from a refugee boat.
Finkel is back and is the author of the soon-to-be-released True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa. The plot description (from Library Journal): “This is some story: a harassed young contributing editor fakes part of a story and losses his job. Hiding away from the world, he discovers that a murderer had assumed his identity.” We can just imagine the thought process that went into that one: “I need a foil. What’s worse than making stuff up in a reputable national magazine?…Hmmm…”