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Zachery Kouwe Plagiarism Scandal? New York Times Says Reporter 'Borrowed' Repeatedly

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The New York Times has issued an editor's note saying that business reporter Zachery Kouwe, "reused language from The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and other sources without attribution or acknowledgment."

According to the Times, they were notified of the issue by the Journal.

In articles about the Bernard Madoff scandal that appeared in both newspapers on February 6, there were similar phrases and even identical sentences. Versions of the stories were also available online on February 5. For example, each contained a sentence reading:

Last year Mr. Madoff's wife, Ruth, also agreed to an asset freeze as part of a separate trustee's $45 million lawsuit against her.

In each story, that sentences was immediately preceded by very similar passages. From the New York Times version:

Under the agreement, the family members cannot transfer or sell property or assets valued at more than $1,000 or incur debts and obligations greater than $1,000 without approval of Mr. Picard. They are allowed to use credit cards for necessary living expenses. The defendants also will provide the trustee with an accounting of their expenditures.

From the Wall Street Journal version:

The family members agreed not to transfer or sell property or assets valued at more than $1,000 or incur debts and obligations greater than $1,000 without approval of the trustee. They are allowed to use credit cards for necessary living expenses. The defendants also will provide the trustee with an accounting of their expenditures, the orders say.

The Times indicated that the problem may be larger, potentially involving unattributed work from Reuters and elsewhere. From the paper's corrections page:

A subsequent search by The Times found other cases of extensive overlap between passages in Mr. Kouwe's articles and other news organizations'. (The search did not turn up any indications that the articles were inaccurate.)



Copying language directly from other news organizations without providing attribution -- even if the facts are independently verified -- is a serious violation of Times policy and basic journalistic standards. It should not have occurred. The matter remains under investigation by The Times, which will take appropriate action consistent with our standards to protect the integrity of our journalism.