Times Faces Plagiarism... Again

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A New York Times reporter recently resigned amid accusations of plagiarism, and on February 14, the Times issued an Editors' Note detailing the case.

Zachery Kouwe worked as a blogger and reporter for the New York Times since October 2008. The accusations of plagiarism were made by the Wall Street Journal regarding a post made by Kouwe on the DealBook blog at nytimes.com. The WSJ found "extensive similarities" between Kouwe's article and an article printed just hours earlier by the WSJ, and Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson sent a letter to New York Times editor Bill Keller describing "this case of apparent plagiarism." In an internal investigation, the Times uncovered additional cases of plagiarism by Kouwe.

The Times printed a correction both as an Editors' Note and alongside Kouwe's plagiarized article. The newspaper detailed its own policy on plagiarism, ending with the Times' dedication to protecting the integrity of journalism.

This was not the first incidence of a Times reporter taking liberties with journalism. In 2003, Jayson Blair, another reporter for the Times, was found guilty of plagiarizing. Additionally, the Times discovered that Blair was inventing quotes, facts and even sources to enhance his stories.

Unfortunately, these incidences reflect poorly on the Times. In only seven years this newspaper produced two writers whose ethics were questionable by all standards of journalism. This does not seem coincidental.

Is there something in the atmosphere at the Times that forces writers to feel the need to cheat? Or, does the atmosphere at the Times enable cheaters and make them feel like they can get away with cheating?

The Times has promised to do a review of all articles written by Kouwe, but maybe it needs to review its own policies, and it certainly needs to review its editing practices. A respected paper like the Times will no longer have any respect if things like this continue.

6 comments:

Cory Keasey February 17, 2010 at 7:28 PM  

I feel that the pressure to do such a good job creates that idea of using others work. I am not saying what he did was right, it wasn't and stupid to go to that level. Journalism is an every-changing field. The risk of losing jobs for poor articles might have been his worry. I would hope i never would stoop to this level, or at least get caught. Just kidding.

Julia Robinson February 17, 2010 at 11:20 PM  

Wow! Call me naive, but I was surprised to read that such frequent plagarism is taking place at a place like the New York Times. I guess I didn't realize plagarism was so common, even in prestigious places such as the Times. It is interesting to me, though, that stories like these aren't highly heard about (unless I'm the only one who didn't know?) and the reputation of the Times doesn't suffer much because of it.

Katelyn Chamberlin February 18, 2010 at 9:49 AM  

Hearing that plagiarism takes place at even prestigious newspapers like the New York Times makes me wonder if the smaller newspapers are doing it too. I can't help but wonder what it is about the Times and the Washington Post (with the Stephen Glass scandal), that produces so many cases of plagiarism compared to a smaller newspaper. Maybe the fact that we just aren't catching plagiarism at smaller newspapers.

Courtney Glienke February 18, 2010 at 10:01 AM  

When you think about it though how often would you look at your local newspaper and be skeptical that something written about your community would be plagiarized compared to a big paper like the Times?

Tyler Lloyd February 18, 2010 at 11:59 AM  

Of course the Times is getting sued for plagiarism. With the amount of media that comes out now and the amount of news companies everybody reports on the same thing and if there is an "and" in the same place as a different article people cry plagiarism.

Cory Keasey February 18, 2010 at 2:03 PM  

I agree with you Tyler. Articles get more difficult to come by when many companies are printing them. The only thing is they must write their own story not copy someone elses story. As long as they cite their source somewhere I really do not see a problem with it.

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