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BuzzFeed Fires Reporter for Plagiarism

July 26, 2014

BuzzFeed is kind of like Wikipedia. You can read it for fun but you don’t want to cite it as a source in an academic paper.

This weekend, they fired Benny Johnson who was one of their political reporters after it was pointed out to them that Johnson had committed numerous acts of plagiarism.

BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith released a statement today…

Editor’s Note: An Apology To Our Readers

Starting this Wednesday, Twitter users began pointing out instances in which a BuzzFeed writer, Benny Johnson, had lifted phrases and sentences from other websites.

After carefully reviewing more than 500 of Benny’s posts, we have found 41 instances of sentences or phrases copied word for word from other sites. Benny is a friend, colleague, and, at his best, a creative force, but we had no choice other than letting him go.

We owe you, our readers, an apology. This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you — in this case, about who wrote the words on our site. Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or other sources, is an act of disrespect to the reader. We are deeply embarrassed and sorry to have misled you. Benny’s editors — I, Katherine Miller, John Stanton, Shani Hilton, and McKay Coppins — bear real responsibility.

Read the rest here.

This doesn’t make a difference to wise people who take everything BuzzFeed publishes with a grain of salt but it’s sending shock waves through the online media world.

Gawker seems to be enjoying the schadenfreude more than anyone.

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