The New York Times is the current selection in the news media’s Plagiarist of the Month Club, a dis-honorific that Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt addresses in his column this week, headlined “Journalistic Shoplifting.”
The back-story, as deconstructed by Hoyt:
ZACHERY KOUWE, a Times business reporter for a little over a year,resigned last month after he was accused of plagiarizing from The Wall Street Journal. An internal review of his work turned up more articles — he said he was shown four — containing copy clearly lifted from other news sources.
The particulars, as presented by Hoyt:
In January, Dealbreaker, a competing Web site, scored a scoop by posting an internal Citigroup memo about a rumored joint venture. 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. Dealbreaker’s editor, Bess Levin, posted a gotcha. I called and asked her what happened next. She said got a call from Andrew Ross Sorkin, the editor of DealBook, who explained that Kouwe had verified the memo with Citigroup and was going to get his own copy. Rather than wait, Kouwe grabbed it from her site, she said Sorkin told her. Sorkin immediately ordered an editors’ note inserted in the DealBook item that gave credit and explained what happened.
Sorkin said 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.”
As they say in the Big Town, I got your larger problem right here.
And that is: Times business reporter and Dealbook editor Sorkin has himself been accused of ripping off Times colleagues in his book, Too Big To Fail.
The success of New York Times business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin‘s tome Too Big to Fail has provoked a debate in the fractious newsroom: is he a plugged-in wunderkind or an in-over-his-head cub reporter who mooches off his veteran colleagues?
I don’t know which is true, but I do know Hoyt should have mentioned it.