Arizona State Press Fires Reporter After Plagiarism, Retracts Articles

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(Credit: The State Press, screenshot)

As we wrote yesterday, Arizona newspaper the East Valley Tribune told readers that it had unpublished  “several articles” by an Arizona State University student intern who plagiarized.  While the Tribune didn’t name the intern in question, the Phoenix New Times blogged that the intern in question is ASU student Raquel Velasco, who the New Times noted was “called out for plagiarism” by the school’s student newspaper the State Press.  (Also, Velasco lists being a reporter for the Tribune in her bio on the blog “Healthy ASU.)

In a Sept. 1 report, the State Press “editorial board” issued an “apology and  retraction” that revealed that Velasco had been rightly accused of plagiarism. According to the State Press report, it conducted “an independent and side-by-side comparison” of  Velasco’s Aug. 30 report and found her article plagiarized both a Phoenix Business Journal report and a press release.  According to the State Press:

“Quotes were lifted, information was outright stolen, and the sentence structure directly matched the original article.”

The newspaper’s statement detailed journalism ethics issues in three other articles including plagiarism, lifted quotes, and possible fabrication.   The newspaper added that it “retracted” Valesco’s articles and fired her.

The State Press, which took responsibility “for not catching the plagiarism as soon as it hit our desks,” wrote:

“We offer our most sincere apology to each publication and news outlet, and acknowledge that the hard work and original information belongs to each writer.”

And, the State Press published retractions on some of Valesco’s articles that read in part that Velasco “has been terminated” and the “article has been removed” because of plagiarism.

Other articles by Velasco are still published on the State Press without any retraction notes, like this Aug. 29 report.

We wrote to the State Press asking for more information about its review of Velasco’s work, if it will implement any new editorial or ethics controls to prevent plagiarism, and for more information about the article that may have included fabrication. The State Press’ editor-in-chief Yvonne Gonzalez responded to iMediaEthics’ inquiry and directed us to the editorial board statement.

We’ve written to the Tribune to confirm the New Times’ report that Velasco is the intern in question, and we’ve written to Velasco. We’ll update with any responses.

The State Press is one of the ten college newspapers we included last year in our study on college newspapers, their police blotters and their unpublishing practices.

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Arizona State Press Fires Reporter Raquel Velasco After Plagiarism, Retracts Articles

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