BuzzFeed editor fired for plagiarism

ADARIO STRANGE
Last updated 16:50 28/07/2014
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COPY AND PASTE: Twitter users have highlighted an episode of plagiarism by one of Buzzfeed's senior writers.

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This post was originally published on Mashable.

News website BuzzFeed, reportedly valued at $1 billion, has fired one its high-profile writers over plagiarism.

Following a review of his work, Benny Johnson, the site's viral politics editors, has been fired, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith announced in a blog post on Friday night.

"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," Smith said in a statement on BuzzFeed's website. "Benny is a friend, colleague, and, at his best, a creative force, but we had no choice other than letting him go."

Things apparently came to a head on Wednesday, when Johnson used Twitter to call out another publication for plagiarising his work.

Those tweets prompted other Twitter users to point out Johnson's own instances of serial plagiarism, and soon resulted in a blog post detailing his journalistic transgressions.

Soon after, Gawker, one of Buzzfeed's primary competitors, hopped on the story; this led to even more scrutiny of Johnson's work by BuzzFeed's own editors.

"We owe you, our readers, an apology," Smith said. "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."

In addition to the apology, Smith also included links to 41 of Johnson's posts found to have "plagiarism and attribution issues."

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"We have corrected the instances of plagiarism, and added an editor’s note to each," Smith added.

Following his dismissal, Johnson posted an apology of his own via Twitter on Saturday:

Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.

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