One important caveat about this year’s total of 32 incidents is that there are more people and organizations searching for and reporting on these incidents. For example, Jim Romenesko and i Media Ethics do a good job surfacing and covering these incidents.The more people on the beat, or playing the Google Game, the more incidents we will uncover.(Note: I count the exposure of a serial plagiarist as a single incident, rather than adding a digit for each time they stole.) Aside from that, this year was notable in that it saw three serial fabricators exposed at newspapers in the United States.
Then came Tamara Bell, a staff photographer for Sun-Times Media who made up names and quotes for photo essays.
Finally, just last week, longtime Cape Cod Times reporter Karen Jeffrey admitted to fabricating sources and quotes in her reporting.
Tobin also wrote about a local council meeting as if he’d been there when he hadn’t.
• A writer for The Colonnade, a student newspaper at Georgia College & State University, was dismissed after plagiarizing from the Associated Press.
April • The Contra Costa Times apologized to the Los Angeles Times after it discovered that an editorial it published in early April was “nearly identical” in its “approach” to one previously published by the latter.
• Washington Post reporter Elizabeth Flock resigned after a Post editor’s note reported that “An earlier version of this report made inappropriate, extensive use of an original report by Discovery News and also failed to credit that news organization as the primary source for the blog post.” This followed an editor’s note in December.George Waters exposed the plagiarism, noting that he identified stolen material in 42 of the 52 columns he looked at.Jeffrey initially denied the accusation and then issued a public apology and reached a financial settlement with one writer whose work he stole on a regular basis.• The Reporter, a magazine published at the Rochester Institute of Technology, fired three writers after discovering plagiarism in two articles.May • and Erik Wemple of the Washington Post both presented evidence that Arnaud de Borchgrave, a Washington Times columnist and director and senior adviser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) had plagiarized from AP and Click Z.com, among other sources.CSIS also investigated and the result was that it “reinforced to everyone at CSIS the importance of adhering to strict standards when it comes to properly and precisely attributing intellectual content.The issue has been discussed with Arnaud, and we don’t expect any future problems.” • Tablet magazine exposed the plagiarism of Italian journalist and author Giulio Meotti.She was the worst offender, with the paper reporting that “editors have been unable to find 69 people in 34 stories since 1998.” The scale of offenses by Jeffrey and Jha make them two of the worst serial fabricators in modern journalism.The same can be said for serial humor plagiarists Steve Jeffrey and Jon Flatland. Finally, of course, there was Jonah Lehrer, who was first outed as a self-plagiarist and was soon revealed to have also fabricated and plagiarized.The site later added an editor’s note about the plagiarism and offered an apology.Tobin for plagiarizing from two Maine newspapers, The Forecaster and Current.