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Jared Keller was fired by the news media website Mic today after being busted for plagiarism by Gawker, iMediaEthics just learned.

Mic’s news director Jared Keller lifted copy without proper attribution at least 20 times, Gawker discovered.

“Jared Keller is no longer employed at Mic,” iMediaEthics was told in a statement from Mic editor-in-chief Jake Horowitz.

“Plagiarism is unacceptable in any form and our editorial policies make that very clear. We appreciate Gawker bringing these issues to our attention, and as we continue our internal review, we’ll be transparently updating any story that violates our standards.”

The statement, provided to iMediaEthics by a Mic spokesperson, went on:

“Mic takes responsibility for allowing this to happen. We’re going to use this as an opportunity to improve as an organization, and we’re already soliciting candid feedback from our editorial staff about what we can be doing better. We’re committed to making all of the changes necessary to ensure that Mic is consistently exceeding the high standards we have for ourselves.”

Keller declined to comment to iMediaEthics about the allegations. In a tweet Feb. 12, he apologized for the plagiarism.

 

 

Mic, an online news site, was founded in 2011 and boasts 19 million monthly readers.

 

Keller helped himself to words by Atlantic, Telegraph and Washington Post journalists

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Gawker found the usual sort of word theft seen in any plagairists’ playbook: a mix of direct copy and paste without attribution, and copy and pasting with attribution but no quotation marks.  A third of the examples Gawker listed came from a tipster, who alerted Gawker to the problematic reporting. Gawker then found more. Three side-by-side example of clear plagiarism by Keller were provided by Gawker. In the first one, from last month (bold emphasis indicates verbatim text):

The Atlantic wrote:  “Tuesday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the passage of 70 years since the January 27, 1945, liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet soldiers. Auschwitz was a network of concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Auschwitz I and nearby Auschwitz II-Birkenau were the extermination camps where an estimated 1.1 million people—mostly Jews from across Europe, but also political opponents, prisoners of war, homosexuals, and Roma—were killed in gas chambers or by systematic starvation, forced labor, disease, or medical experiments.”

Mic’s Keller wrote“Tuesday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the passage of 70 years since the Jan. 27, 1945, liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps built and operated in occupied Poland by Nazi Germany. As many as 1.1 million people, mostly Jews from across Europe, were killed there in gas chambers or by systematic starvation, forced labor and disease.”

Keller also lifted from the Belfast Telegraph in July 2014, Gawker pointed out.

The Telegraph wrote: “The Al-Quds Brigade, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), released a video on July 9 which they say shows the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel. The video shows a vehicle-mounted rocket launcher firing a number of rockets, though it is not possible to establish the date nor location of capture. The vehicle’s door is emblazoned with the Al-Quds Brigade’s distinctive logo.”

Keller: “The Al-Quds Brigade, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), released a video Wednesday that purports to show the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel. The video shows a vehicle-mounted rocket launcher firing a number of rockets, though it is not possible to establish the date nor location of capture. The vehicle’s door is emblazoned with the Al-Quds Brigade’s distinctive logo.”

In addition to the three examples of obvious direct copy and pasting without credit, Gawker listed 16 cases “of Keller directly lifting text, without immediate attribution, from sources he later cites or links to in the posts written under his byline.” Capital New York argued it was “more like irresponsible aggregation” than plagiarism. Gawker noted that it’s a “different sin” from outright plagiarism and not as severe. One such example came from last month:

The Washington Post:  “The 218-page report, commissioned as a result of a May law, explores every aspect, option and pathway to legalization...Each of the 12 paths offers different benefits and risks to public health, government control of the industry, the ability to generate revenue and the level of conflict with federal law.”

Keller: “The 218-page report, commissioned as a result of a May 2014 law directing Vermont’s Secretary of Administration to analyze consequences of legalizing marijuana, explores every aspect, option and pathway to legalization in the Green Mountain State…Each of the 12 paths offers different benefits and risks to public health, government control of the industry, the ability to generate revenue and the level of conflict with federal law.”

Wihile the Washington Post isn’t credited within the story, Keller gave them a hat tip credit at the bottom of the story, iMediaEthics notes.

Keller went home from work early Wednesday, the day of Gawker’s report, Politico said its anonymous sources reported.

Mic announced it was investigating the charges yesterday and called plagiarism “unacceptable.” Mic spokesperson James Allen told Gawker, Politico and Capital New York: “Plagiarism is unacceptable. We have strict editorial standards and conduct ethics trainings for new employees. Using detection software, our copy editing team also checks articles for plagiarism prior to publication. Mic takes any allegations of plagiarism seriously and will conduct an internal review to determine the appropriate next steps.”

With all the claimed precautionary training and use of fancy detection software, how did such a large and overt plagiarism breach still occur?

UPDATE: 2/12/2015 6:15 PM EST Updated to include Keller’s tweet

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You’re fired! Jared Keller canned by Mic for plagiarism, internal review continues of fmr news director

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