Gawker suspends staffer after story with ‘several similarities’ to Miami New Times piece

Gawker Editor Max Read has suspended staff writer Jay Hathaway after he posted a story that drew on a Miami New Times story without attribution. An editor’s note now adorns the post.

Reached by email, Read said he didn’t think Hathaway’s post went through an editor, and that Gawker would look at Hathaway’s other writings “As a matter of course.” He also said, “I want to emphasize this is the first time he’s ever been accused of plagiarism, and I have faith that he will never duplicate or fail to cite ever again.”

Read plans to look “at the site as a whole” to make sure “we’re maintaining best ‘how not to blog like a huge prick’ practices,” he writes.

Here’s Read’s memo to Gawker staff:

As soon as I send this email, I’ll be attaching the following note to this post:

On Sunday, the writer Kris Ex called our attention to several similarities between this post and an article by Kyle Munzenrieder in the Miami New Times, located here–specifically, several similar phrasings, one outright identical phrase, and a close structural similarity. The New Times article was not linked to or cited in any way.

The author of the Gawker post, Jay Hathaway, says he read the New Times article before writing his, and “parts of it probably got stuck in my head while I was posting. I didn’t intend to duplicate any of their article, and I definitely meant to link the source prominently.” I believe Jay, but both the inadvertent duplication and the lack of citation are serious errors. Since even the appearance of wrongdoing does serious damage to our credibility and integrity, I’m suspending Jay for a week. Both he and I offer our sincerest apologies to Munzenreider and the New Times.

To reiterate, this is a serious error, and one none of us can afford to make.

We are, and always have been, frank aggregators–by which I mean we are honest about our aggregation. This is of the utmost importance. We are not in the business of hiding links or sources; we are generous with our credits and citations; and we do not present others’ writing as our own. This is a key component of what Hamilton calls “how to blog without being a huge prick.” Our credibility and integrity—our ability to write honestly and critically about other outlets and institutions—is on the line.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. I’m happy to meet with any of you privately today.

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