Knight Center
Knight Center


Politico reporter forced to resign over accusations of plagiarism of at least 7 articles

On Thursday, Oct. 13, a Politico reporter resigned amid accusations of plagiarism from articles previously published by The New York Times, Associated Press, and other sources, according to The New York Times.

Journalist Kendra Marr offered her resignation after a review by editors at the news website found Marr's stories "bore troubling similarities to work earlier published by others," according to an editors' note Politico published. "One of the inviolable principles of journalism, one we live by at Politico, is that the work we publish must be genuinely our own," the editors' note said, adding that the news site apologized to its "journalistic colleagues and competitors" and readers. "Our standard at Politico is to be candid with ourselves and our readers when we err, and to move swiftly, fairly, and transparently to ensure that we maintain public trust."

Also according to Politico, "problems with improper borrowing and inadequate attribution" were found in at least seven stories, all transportation related. Still, the editors' note never used the word "plagiarism," according the blog Regret the Error.

The plagiarism came to light after a freelancer for The New York Times emailed Politico editors, who promptly initiated a review of other stories Marr had written, the Washington Post explained.

Eric Wemple of the Washington Post provides a side-by-side comparison of one of the stories Marr, who previously worked for the Washington Post, "borrowed" from a New York Times article about a proposed increase in security fees for air travelers. "Throughout most of her story, Marr appears to be executing an artful re-write of the Times piece," Wemple wrote. Another piece from Wemple called on Politico to "come cleaner" and publish its own side-by-side account of the plagiarized stories.

Wemple also questioned what would lead a young, up-and-coming reporter like Marr to turn to plagiarism. "When you combine Politico Pro’s pressure for originality with Politico Regular’s factory conditions, you get a force powerful enough to corrupt an otherwise good journalist," he wrote.

The International Business Times pointed out that Marr has been in journalistic trouble before, when as a student with the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University she "she falsely claimed to be a U.S. Census worker in order to get information for a class assignment." Marr was a student of David Protess, the leader of the Innocence Project who was forced out after university officials accused him of lying and doctoring records.

While Marr's plagiarism might seem minor in comparison with that of Jayson Blair, "we shouldn’t become desensitized to lesser forms of malpractice just because they’re common among college students whose justification is ignorance, sloppiness or pressure," wrote Steve Myers for Poynter.

Other Related Headlines:
» Knight Center (Washington Post suspends Pulitzer winner for plagiarism)


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