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Did NY Times’ blog culture lead to incident of plagiarism?

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt has a critical (well-linked) analysis of events leading to reporter Zachery Kouwe’s resignation from the title last month.

As previously noted on this blog, Wall Street Journal editor Robert Thomson complained to the New York Times over a particular article of Kouwe’s, on the NY Times’ DealBook blog. The NY Times investigated and found other examples of copied passages.

In Hoyt’s piece, which I recommend reading in full, he asks whether the “the culture of DealBook” had led to subsequent events:

How did his serial plagiarism happen and go undetected for so long? Why were warning signs overlooked? Was there anything at fault in the culture of DealBook, the hyper-competitive news blog on which Kouwe worked? And, now that the investigation is complete, what about a full accounting to readers?

He also suggests:

At a time when cut-and-paste technology enables plagiarism, when news and information on the web are treated as commodities, these are conversations worth having throughout the Times building.

But over on his Reuters blog, Felix Salmon, whilst praising the public editor’s critique, raises another issue: the New York Times’ unwillingness to link out.

…[I]s there something inherent to the culture of blogging which breeds a degree of carelessness ill suited to a venerable newspaper?

(…)

The fundamental problem with Kouwe was that when he saw good stories elsewhere, he felt the need to re-report them himself, rather than simply linking to what he had found, as any real blogger would do as a matter of course.

Finally, you can read Kouwe’s own comments about how the misdeed occurred: he told the New York Observer how he would throw others’ material into WordPress, intending to re-write it later. From the NY Observer interview:

Mr. Kouwe says he has never fabricated a story, nor has he knowingly plagiarized. “Basically, there was a minor news story and I thought we needed to have a presence for it on the blog,” he said, referring to DealBook. “In the essence of speed, I’ll look at various wire services and throw it into our back-end publishing system, which is WordPress, and then I’ll go and report it out and make sure all the facts are correct. It’s not like an investigative piece. It’s usually something that comes off a press release, an earnings report, it’s court documents.”

“I’ll go back and rewrite everything,” he continued. “I was stupid and careless and fucked up and thought it was my own stuff, or it somehow slipped in there. I think that’s what probably happened.”

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NY Times reporter resigns following plagiarism accusations

The New York Times reports that the reporter accused of plagiarising parts of articles from rival titles has resigned.

Wall Street Journal managing editor, Robert Thomson, had complained to the New York Times over an article by Zachery Kouwe last Friday.

According to the NY Times, the Times editors “investigated and found other examples” of copied passages in  Kouwe’s work:

The Times made the matter public on Monday, when it published an Editors’ Note stating that Mr. Kouwe had copied passages from Wall Street Journal and Reuters articles, and used them “in a number” of his articles and in blog posts, without attribution. It did not say how many times that had occurred.

Also related: Alan D. Mutter reflects on the concept of plagiarism in the age of the internet, in his most recent blog post:

[B]ecause the web is open, easily accessible and readily searchable, it is more likely than ever that cheaters will be discovered faster and more surely than ever before.

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FT.com: WSJ to introduce micropayments

The Wall Street Journal is planning to bring in a micropayment system for individual articles and premium subscriptions on its website, according to Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief.

The pricing structure will be ‘rightfully high’, according to Thomson.

Last week Rupert Murdoch, News Corp chairman, said he was now convinced it was possible for newspapers to charge for content online given the success of the WSJ’s existing model.

Full article at this link…

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Charlie Rose: The future of newspapers [video]

February 15th, 2009 | 4 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

A conversation about the future of newspapers with Walter Isaacson of Time (who believes micropayments can save newspapers), Robert Thomson of Wall Street Journal and Mort Zuckerman of The New York Daily News.

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PoynterOnline: ‘Future of newspapers’ transcript from Charlie Rose’s show

February 13th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick, Newspapers

Read the “Future of Newspapers” transcript from Charlie Rose’s show on February 11 at this link…

It features: Robert Thomson, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal; Mort Zuckerman, owner and publisher of the New York Daily News and the editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report; and Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute (formerly the editor of Time magazine.)

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Reuters: Print advertising downturn ending, says WSJ’s Thomson

December 5th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Advertising, Editors' pick, Newspapers

Advertisers are looking to spend in more conservative ways, Robert Thomson told a Reuters conference.

“People are looking for a safe harbour in times of turbulence.”

Print advertising is a shrinking but valuable market, he added.

While digital ads are still growing at Dow Jones, ‘the link between the reader and the ad is more transient online’, he said.

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Reuters blogs: WSJ axes 50 jobs, creates new posts at New York ‘hub’

July 17th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Jobs, Newspapers

A reorganisation of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial and production operations will lead to around 50 jobs being lost, editor Robert Thomson has said in a memo.

The paper’s editing and production for print, online and mobile will be centralised around its New York ‘hub’, with editorial operations at its South Brunswick offices to cease.

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PaidContent: Wall Street Journal creates news hub

June 23rd, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

The paper will now operate with a central news desk to allow for ‘enhanced co-operation between print, web and Newswires journalists’, a memo from editor Robert Thomson has said.

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Reuters: Robert Thomson named managing editor of Wall Street Journal

May 21st, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

Former Times editor Robert Thomson has been appointed editor-in-chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, succeeding Marcus Brauchli.

An op-ed to be published in today’s Journal, will see Thomson admit he made mistakes in his involvement with Brauchli’s departure.

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