The New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt takes a close look at the Zachery Kouwe plagiarism case in today’s Times. The DealBook reporter resigned in mid-February after Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thompson sent a letter to Times editors, noting “lifted” passages and language from WSJ material in his work. Two researchers turned up more plagiarized passages from other sources.
Kouwe blamed the fast-paced, competitive news cycle for the mistakes, which mostly used banal background information.
Hoyt notes an earlier incident in January, in which Kouwe swiped an internal Citigroup memo posted Dealbreaker, a competing Web site. “The same memo soon went up on DealBook, complete with two minor alterations that Dealbreaker had inserted as a trap to catch competitors ripping off material without credit,” Hoyt writes. DealBook’s editor Bess Levin posted a “gotcha” and then got a call from DealBook founder Andrew Ross Sorkin. An editors’ note was added to the original post.
Sorkin told Hoyt that Kouwe had told him “it was an honest mistake. I told him that it was unacceptable, but I had no reason to believe it represented a larger problem.”
Clark writes that DealBook itself, even without Kouwe, “may need added oversight.”
Sorkin, who founded it and turned it into a highly successful franchise, wears many hats: editor, reporter, columnist and book author. His fast-moving blog contains original reporting and aggregates news from other sources in a complex stew. Much of the copy gets read only once by an editor, usually [DealBook news editor Jack] Lynch or another news editor. Read more at the Times—>
But does DealBook need more oversight? Perhaps they just need to be more willing to share and link out to competitors who obviously get a scoop before they did.
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