Politico reporter Kendra Marr resigns over plagiarism of at least 7 stories

Reporter Kendra Marr resigned her position Thursday after New York Times writer Susan Stellin alerted Politico editors to similarities between her transportation policy story published Sept. 26 and Marr’s story published Oct. 10.

Politico is not saying whether it has completed its investigation into Marr’s work after finding seven instances of plagiarism, or whether newsroom staff are provided (or will be provided) ethical guidelines to follow in their work. Chief Operating Officer Kim Kingsley said the Allbritton-owned organization will not comment beyond the letter to readers.

After being alerted Wednesday night, Politico editors examined Marr’s work and discovered incidents in which “specific turns of phrase or passages … bore close resemblance to work published elsewhere. Others involved similarities in the way stories were organized to present their findings. … Material published in our pages borrowed from the work of others, without attribution, in ways which we cannot defend and will not tolerate.”

In a prominent editor’s note by John Harris and Jim VandeHei, Politico linked to the seven of Marr’s transportation-related stories that were amended Thursday to include proper attribution. The stories also carry editor’s notes that explain the changes. Based on the editor’s notes appended to stories, material was used from these sources without proper credit:

Six of the stories were published between Sept. 19 and Oct. 10. One of the stories was published July 28.

A commenter on the editor’s note about Marr’s plagiarism suggests similarities between a June story of Marr’s and an April story by Benjamin Spillman in the Las Vegas Review Journal. It’s unclear whether Politico editors reviewed that story or will re-examine it as part of a further investigation.

Marr’s LinkedIn profile says she joined Politico in August 2009 after two years as a staff writer at The Washington Post. Her Politico bio says the San Francisco native covered financial news for the Post, including the auto industry, and that her work also appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, The Orange County Register and The Miami Herald. Marr graduated from Northwestern in 2007.

In November 2006, Marr was a student of David Protess at Northwestern. During that time, as part of Medill’s Innocence Project, Marr claimed to be a U.S. census worker in order to locate a witness in a murder case. Marr told the Chicago Tribune in May of this year that “she regrets using deception”:

“I was a student in the class, and I wish I hadn’t done it,” Marr said. “It wasn’t my idea, and as a professional journalist, I haven’t misrepresented myself since, nor do I intend to ever again.”

Protess said the deception was the idea of Sergio Serritella, a private investigator then working as a teaching assistant with the Medill Innocence Project.

“At the time, there was no law that prevented them from doing that,” Protess said. “When I found out it was legal and legitimate, I gave it the green light.”

Serritella denied it was his suggestion. In an email after the incident, Protess congratulated Marr on finding the person and tried to calm her fears about getting in trouble.

“I don’t see this as a big deal,” Protess wrote in the email to Marr. “It’s highly unlikely that (the man) will report you to the Census Bureau, and, if he did, those folks have a lot more on their mind than hassling you … Eventually, they’ll get bored and leave you alone. And you’re right: at least your number didn’t show up as ‘Medill.’”

Protess’ 30-year career at Northwestern has ended, and the university has agreed to release emails he exchanged with student journalists working on the Innocence Project. || Missing word: Craig Silverman says VandeHei and Harris’ note “is notable for the fact that it never uses the word plagiarism, even though it’s explicitly about a case of serial plagiarism.” | Related: Jayson Blair is not the standard by which to judge journalistic fraud like Marr’s

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  • Anonymous

    I just want to read good news stories, please. Who wrote or didn’t write little pieces of them first is irrelevant to me. That’s all inside baseball. Pay each other royalties, why don’t you. Stop whining. Work it out between yourselves. The vast majority of readers don’t give a rat’s patootie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000352063030 Philip Wilson

    I see a great career ahead as she follows in fellow plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin’s footsteps.  As long as she writes to the DNC talking points, her career will be facilitated.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t just about all writing nothing but creative plagiarism?  When the journalistic community finally realizes how bankrupt they are for original ideas this “problem” will go away.  The very existence of this “problem” points out a sharp inconsistency in the journalistic community as well.  Many of these people who think intellectual “property” is sacrosanct have very little respect for real, actual property.  How many of these Bozos howled in disgust at the Kelo vs. London decision of the SCOTUS?  Yeah, when copyright is down to ten years and no one is losing their job because of plagiarism you’ll see me crying crocodile tears.

  • Anonymous

    The following sentences are priceless:
    After being alerted Wednesday night, Politico editors examined Marr’s
    work and discovered incidents in which “specific turns of phrase or
    passages … bore close resemblance to work published elsewhere. … in ways which we cannot defend
    and will not tolerate.”

    If the “editors” at politico want an actual challenge, I propose they try to find so much as ONE story they’ve published that DIDN’T at least MIMIC those published in the new york times, washington post, etc. Better yet, find a story that doesn’t make use of IDENTICAL terminology, a la “JournoList”. I use the term “story” purposely. Calling the regurgitated democrat Talking Points “reporting” is a bridge too far.

    Politico is just one more in a long line of propaganda outlets for The Party.

  • jones.barry


  • Anonymous

    I just don’t get this. Why would someone become a writer if they didn’t love to write? It’s not like it’s a well-paying profession or an easy one to break into… for most it’s more of a calling than a job. A need. An obsession.

    I could understand if she disliked the pre-writing grunt work… the research, the cross checking, the phone calls… but to just copy and paste another’s words? The words are the good part! Aw heck… she could’ve used those other articles and a few factoids from Wikipedia as her sources, if she just used her own words she’d still have a job. Not that it would be right to do so, but still…

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps she can get a job on plagiarist Biden’s staff?

  • Anonymous

    Way to break the stereotype Kendra

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    Obviously Politico doesn’t check their writers’ work as long as it conforms to The Narrative.  Good for Stellin for defending her intellectual property, but most working journalists have new projects to research and write on, and have little time to check stories on subjects they addressed weeks or months ago.

  • willbilson

    Oh yes, he must be a typical right-winger with no scruples, to simply state what any observant person can see daily, the fact that the mainstream media sees it as their #1 job to promote the Democratic party. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/don.giannatti Don Giannatti

    A Reporter that used to work for the Washington Post has ethical questions, and cheats (lies)?

    And this is news? All we are missing is the word “unexpectedly”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JSUNTE67TUHS36QAOVMR4LC5HA Pink

    You’re a complete idiot.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

    “what the vast majority of journalists learned in college”

    Were you a journalism student in college? Or are you just a typical right winger with no scruples who makes stuff up on a whim to support your ignorant and sociopathic beliefs?

  • http://twitter.com/kidbookratings Erik Metz

    Plagiarists are the worst!  That’s why I only read and write about books for people under 10…


  • Anonymous

    Politico isn’t the most credible of sources to begin with….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ETPOLV3HUWIUDCST2W4PX72QE4 Yolanda

    my best friend’s mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it here ProudRich.com

  • sh spam

    Did she also appear as a guest on NPR news or other types of shows?

  • http://www.nobama.com John

    While I hate to see anyone disgraced, she knew what she was doing each time she did it.  I think some people read a story and then write about what they read. That is nearly as bad, but grabbing paragraphs and using them with a few changes this day is a career ending move. It is so easy to detect.  

    Any reporters who see this should learn.  The days of plagiarism have ended.