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BuzzFeed Editor Fired for Plagiarism

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | July 28, 2014 3:06 PM EST

Popular news and entertainment Web site BuzzFeed fired its viral politics editor Benny Johnson after he had been charged for plagiarism. Johnson was believed to be one of the major forces behind developing the energetic style of storytelling on the Web site.

REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn
Pro-net neutrality Internet activists rally in the neighborhood where U.S. President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser in Los Angeles, California July 23, 2014.

Johnson was fired on Friday, July 25 as he was found to have plagiarised on 40 occasions. Editor-in-chief Ben Smith later extended an apology for the plagiarism on Twitter as he called it "a breach of our fundamental responsibility."

An internal investigation apparently confirmed that the seasoned editor committed the offence on several occasions.

Smith said how the Web site had evolved over time to go beyond plagiarism.

"Our writers didn't have journalistic backgrounds and weren't held to traditional journalistic standards, because we weren't doing journalism. But that started changing a long time ago," Smith wrote on BuzzFeed.

Johnson came under radar after several users on Twitter pointed out that BuzzFeed's content was similar to other popular Web sites.

BuzzFeed straightway apologised for the plagiarism to its readers. It called plagiarism as "an act of disrespect to the reader."

"We owe you, our readers, an apology. This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you," it wrote.

Major Plagiarism Incidents in Journalism

Jonah Lehrer was accused of "self-plagiarism" in 2012 when he was found to have submitted identical contents to multiple agencies. He allegedly copies his own articles from major news publications like The Wall Street, The Guardian and The Wall Street, and submitted it to The New Yorker.

Australian TV presenter David Koch was accused in 2007 of plagiarising lines from a Sunday Telegraph column. Koch allegedly copied three sentences for his column on The Sun-Herald.

Ben Domenech self-plagiarised on his Washington Post blog in 2006. He allegedly copies content from his own articles from National Review Online and his college newspaper. He also directly copied from several writers. Domenech resigned after the allegations.

Mike Barnicle was asked to resign after the Boston Globe writer allegedly copied ten passages from George Carlin's book "Brain Droppings" to include those in his column in 1998.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au

To contact the editor, e-mail:

(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn / )
Pro-net neutrality Internet activists rally in the neighborhood where U.S. President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser in Los Angeles, California July 23, 2014.
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