On Friday, Fox News published a story on its website that included a paragraph nearly identical to one that appeared in an earlier Politico story about how the sequester budget cuts would affect government jobs and programs moving forward. The Politico story, written by Darren Samuelsohn and Ginger Gibson, was published on March 1 at 4:33 a.m. The Fox News story was also published on March 1, and does not have a time stamp on it (or a byline), but media watchdog Jim Romenesko, who first revealed the duplication, said on his blog that the Fox News sequester story appeared “later in the day,” which seems likely enough, given that the Politico story was published before dawn.
Romenseko published the original and the offending paragraph on his blog. The paragraphs are nearly identical, save the placement of one adverb. Romenesko tweeted the blog post Monday with a message directed at the conservative news outlet: “Dear Fox News: I know we're not best of friends, but any chance I can get a comment on this?” Romenesko said in the post that he had reached out to Fox News spokesperson Ashley Nerz for comment.
Thought we can only speculate at this point, it appears that this duplication, while meeting the standard definition of plagiarism, was a result of sloppy aggregating – a journalistic violation increasingly common within the hyper-competitive 24 hour news cycle. In fact, Politico found itself on the wrong side of a similar accusation in 2011, when New York Times reporter Susan Stellin noticed similarities between her work and that of Politico reporter Kendra Marr. After Stellin brought the issue to the attention of Marr’s editors, an investigation revealed a half-dozen incidences of inadequate attribution, and Marr resigned.
This story will be updated with further information as it becomes available.
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