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This public editor note was posted atop an August 2 story for the Star. (Credit: Toronto Star, screenshot)

A Toronto Star reporter plagiarized from another Star reporter, a Public Editor Note revealed. 

The note posted atop Marc Ellison‘s August 2 Star story disclosed that the article plagiarized from a 2010 article by another reporter for the Star, Daniel Dale. Both the 2010 and 2013 stories reported on personalized license plates that were not allowed by the government.

The note reads:

“Public Editor Note – Sept. 30, 2013 : This article about the vanity licence plates rejected by the Ontario government incorrectly contained six paragraphs that were plagiarized in form and substance from the work of another Star journalist who wrote about censored vanity licence plates in October 2010. The Star apologizes to its readers for this lapse in journalistic standards.”

iMediaEthics reviewed the 2013 article that contained plagiarism and saw only three paragraphs that clearly lifted from the 2010 article. We’ve reached out to the Star public editor Kathy English to ask if the article was revised after the plagiarism was detected.

See below a side-by-side comparison. We’ve bolded words that were verbatim, and underlined parts that were the same structure.

The Aug. 2, 2013 article, “0UTLAW3D,” reads:

“You might be a pro-life, steroid-injecting, devil-worshipping white supremacist who supports the Maple Leafs, believes they’re a superhero and is a self-confessed hit with the ladies.

“Just don’t you dare mention any of those facts on your personalized licence plate.

“The provincial government does not allow vanity plates that contain “obscene,” “derogatory” or “racist” language or that refer to drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, criminal activity, law enforcement, public figures, politics or religion. Bureaucrats who seem abnormally knowledgeable about offensive words have rejected more than 3,300 applications on these grounds between November 2010 and June 2013, a list obtained via freedom of information request reveals.”

The Oct. 28, 2010 article, “CENSRD,”

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“You may be a Budweiser-guzzling ex-cop stripper who worships Buddha, carries a pistol, uses Viagra and supports Barack Obama, fine. Just don’t you dare mention any of those facts on your licence plate.

“The provincial government does not allow vanity plates that contain “obscene,” “derogatory” or “racist” language or that refer to drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, criminal activity, law enforcement, public figures, politics, or religion. Bureaucrats who seem abnormally knowledgeable about offensive words — 11-year-old bureaucrats, perhaps? — have rejected more than 2,700 applications on these grounds since 2006, a list obtained via freedom of information request reveals.”

 

On Twitter, Jonathan Goldsbie, who writes for Toronto Now, wrote that Marc Ellison, who has the byline on the 2013 Star piece, was a summer intern for the Star.

 

But Ellison’s byline on the Star article says he is a staff reporter and his Twitter account identifies him as a “freelance data- and photojournalist who’s worked for 60 Minutes, Toronto Star, CBC, Globe/Mail, iPolitics, Tyee, + Vice.”

iMediaEthics has written to Star public editor English to ask what exactly Ellison’s relationship is to the paper, how the Star learned of the plagiarism, and if it will be reviewing all of Ellison’s work for the Star. We’ve also reached out to Ellison and will update with any response.

Hat Tip: Craig Silverman/Jonathan Goldsbie

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Toronto Star Admits August Article Plagiarized from 2010 Story on Vanity Plates

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