Plagiarism questions at Chicago paper owned by a state legislator

Better Government Association

Illinois state Sen. Steven M. Landek (D)

Illinois state Sen. Steven M. Landek (D)

The Better Government Association (BGA), a Chicago-based investigative journalism nonprofit, has accused the editors of the Desplaines Valley News of plagiarizing numerous stories in a series of unsigned editorials. The co-owners of the paper are Illinois state Sen. Steven M. Landek (D) and former Chicago Sun-Times editorial page editor Mark Hornung, who resigned from that position in 1995 after being accused of plagiarism.

In the article published yesterday, reporters with the BGA claimed that 14 editorials published in the suburban weekly contained similar or identical language found in stories published by other news outlets around the country, including The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and seven additional journals and web sites. Read more


Providence Journal denies accusations of plagiarism

The Providence Journal has denied allegations made by a local news site that it cribbed language from area TV station WPRI, telling Poynter the paper has a news partnership that allows it to share content with the station.

The denial comes in response to Read more

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Uber’s plan to alienate the news media seems to be going well

Good morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Uber’s plan to completely alienate the news media is going well

    The company says it is investigating why Uber New York GM Josh Mohrer tracked BuzzFeed reporter Johana Bhuiyan. It uses something called "God View" to track people. (BuzzFeed) | Ellen Cushing: "While I was reporting my recent cover story on Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick, several current and former Uber employees warned me that company higher-ups might access my rider logs." (San Francisco Magazine) | Uber once used its data to show where and when people took "Rides of Glory." (Uber blog) | Kalanick apologized for an executive's remarks that it would like to dig up dirt on reporters via "tweetstorm," a "series of thoughts that give the illusion of substance and circumspection because they are presented in a numerical order." (Valleywag) | "I'll let you in on a secret.

Read more
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Should student newspapers name fabulists and plagiarists?

Last October, Megan Card searched through more than two years’ worth of stories in University of South Dakota student paper The Volante. She was following up on a tip, looking for proof that a student on the paper was making things up.

Card, then the paper’s editor-in-chief, found that reporter Joey Sevin had cited several sources — 10 in all — that couldn’t be verified using university records.

“You read about people like Jayson Blair and you think, it could never happen,” Card said in a recent interview. “And then you go through a similar situation and you realize the kind of mentality people have to have to just go completely against everything you learned in journalism school.”

She fired Sevin. But then, she took another step: she identified him in an editor’s column. Read more

Fareed Zakaria

5 Zakaria articles are ‘problematic,’ Washington Post says

Our Bad Media | Newsweek

Washington Post editorial page Editor Fred Hiatt said five Fareed Zakaria articles “strike me as problematic in their absence of full attribution.”

Those five were part of six identified as unoriginal by the anonymous media critics @blippoblappo and @crushingbort in a post Monday. The posts contained plagiarism, patchwriting or material repurposed from press releases, they wrote.

In one instance, a Zakaria piece from August 2011 contains a passage identical to one in a Foreign Policy article. In another, lines in a 2012 column echo passages from a White House press release.

The five “problematic” articles, Hiatt told Poynter in an email, are “unfair to readers and to the original sources. We will take a fuller look over the next day or two, but we probably will attach messages to the archived editions of the five columns.”

Newsweek on Friday removed the editor’s note it had placed over Zakaria’s archives for that publication, placing individual corrections on “articles that Newsweek staffers felt warranted them.” (One such note says Zakaria’s work “borrows extensively from June 1, 2004 remarks by John Kerry without proper attribution.”)

Slate on Monday put an editor’s note on a 1998 Zakaria column that “failed to properly attribute quotations and information” from another piece. Read more


School board candidate says plagiarism was due to a mistake


Indianapolis Public School Board candidate Ramon Batts used material from the ACLU and two other organizations in replies to a survey by the education publication Chalkbeat.

He says it’s because he was up late, Hayleigh Colombo reports:

“That’s what happens when you’re doing things at 1 or 2 a.m,” said Batts.

Someone working for his campaign helped him compile the research before he sent in his responses, he said, and the citations to those sources were accidentally left off when he submitted the survey.

“It’s something I should have seen and caught,” he said.

However it happened, Batts’ plagiarism is a reminder that lifted text isn’t just a problem in journalism. It pops up surprisingly often at the intersection of education and public life:

  • Chris Spence, the director of education for the Toronto District School Board, resigned last January after plagiarizing in pieces for the Toronto Star and, apparently, his dissertation.
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Tallahassee Democrat sports reporter resigns after plagiarizing: ‘I am sincerely sorry’

Tallahassee Democrat

A Florida State University sports reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat has resigned after plagiarizing a story by a freelance reporter.

The paper was made aware earlier this week that a story by reporter Natalie Pierre bore several similarities to an article by freelance writer Tim Linafelt, Tallahassee Democrat editor Bob Gabordi wrote in an editor’s note on the paper’s website:

“After investigating further, we concluded that it was too similar to be pure coincidence, that pieces – at least — of the story were plagiarized. Pierre resigned and no longer will report on behalf of our news organization.”

RELATED: Get real-world recommendations for preventing and handling issues of plagiarism based on the National Plagiarism Summit

Pierre apologized on her personal website, saying she “did not intentionally plagiarize” from Linafelt, while taking “full responsibility for some of freelance writer Tim Linafelt’s words appearing in my story”. Read more


Newsweek boss: ‘clearly enough’ examples to put editor’s note on Zakaria archive

On Monday Newsweek placed an editor’s note on Fareed Zakaria’s entire archive for the magazine. It says, “some of his articles have been the subject of complaints claiming that they contain material that should have been attributed to others.”

The anonymous critics @blippoblappo and @crushingbort published a post Aug. 22 outlining what they said were instances of plagiarism in Zakaria’s 2008 book “The Post-American World” and in Newsweek and Foreign Affairs.

Reached by phone, Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco said simply, “The examples I saw were clearly enough for me to append a note.”

Impoco also took issue with the now-kind-of-bruited claim that he hadn’t answered a previous request for comment from Poynter about Zakaria articles that Newsweek published before he was editor and when a different company owned the magazine. Read more


Star Tribune runs ad bashing transgender kids

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. News Corp buys online real estate business: Move, Inc., owns, and ListHub. News Corp will “turbo-charge traffic growth” to Move’s properties, and it will “benefit from the high-quality geographic data generated by real estate searches,” CEO Robert Thomson says. (BusinessWire) | Last year Move “reported $600,000 in profit atop $227 million in revenue.” (NYT)
  2. Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an ad bashing transgender kids: The Minnesota Child Protection League ran a full-page ad Sunday in an attempt to influence the Minnesota State High School League, which may “approve a new policy that would allow transgender students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity.” Strib VP Steve Yaeger tells Aaron Rupar: “The ad in question met all the requirements of our ad policy.” (Minneapolis City Pages) | Earlier this year the Strib took some heat for how it reported on a transgender person.
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Newsweek places editor’s note over Zakaria archives

This editor’s note now sits on Newsweek’s author page for Fareed Zakaria:

Fareed Zakaria worked for Newsweek when it was under previous ownership. Readers are advised that some of his articles have been the subject of complaints claiming that they contain material that should have been attributed to others. In addition, readers with information about articles by Mr. Zakaria that may purportedly lack proper attribution are asked to e-mail Newsweek at

Zakaria’s last story for Newsweek was published in September 2010, according to the archive. (The note is on that story, and others in the archive, as well.) IAC/Interactive sold Newsweek to the owners of the International Business Times last year.

Two anonymous online critics, @blippoblappo and @crushingbort, have peppered Zakaria with plagiarism charges, including some regarding his time at Newsweek. Read more

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