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.
Repeat after me: Copying and pasting someone's work is called "plagiarism" http://t.co/0Ik1dPXq1O — Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 23, 2014
I'm gonna write "The Old Man And The Sea" by Benny Johnson, it'll be word-for-word the original, but I'll H/T Hemingway so its all good! — Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 23, 2014
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.
"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."
"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:
To the writers who were not properly attributed and anyone who ever read my byline, I am sincerely sorry. http://t.co/WpkZIi4g9k — Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 26, 2014
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