Christian Science Monitor to Review WaPo Plagiarist's Travel Stories

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Christian Science Monitor is reviewing freelancer Robert Rigney's work after the Washington Post reported Rigney plagiarized in a Post article.(Credit: CSM)

Robert Rigney, a freelance writer based in Germany, was busted by the Washington Post for plagiarizing from a documentary film on Andy Warhol in a travel article, as iMediaEthics has reported.

But, it appears Rigney’s ethical lapses didn’t end there:  a review of Rigney’s articles for Christian Science Monitor suggests Rigney self-plagiarized his work by publishing similar stories for the Post and CSM — including an Andy Warhol article the Post claims Rigney plagiarized from a documentary film.

According to Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton, Rigney lifted some quotes and “scenes” from the 2001 documentary Absolut Warhola in writing his April 15 story for the Post, “Visiting the Andy Warhol museum — in Slovakia.”

Rigney had written several articles for Christian Science Monitor as well.  StinkyJournalism checked out his work for CSM and noticed that two of his articles for CSM were on the same topics he had written for the Washington Post — bunkers in Berlin and the Andy Warhol museum in Slovakia.

Rigney appears to have self-plagiarized — or written the same articles for both news outlets.  His posts for Christian Science Monitor were shorter and published before his stories for the Washington Post.

Two articles are on the same topic.  Rigney’s Oct. 6, 2010’s Christian Science Monitor report on a Berlin “club” that “leads expeditions into the World War II bunkers and tunnels” carries all the same quoted interviews as does Rigney’s December 19, 2010 article for the Washington Post.

Rigney’s Feb 25 story for Christian Science Monitor on the Andy Warhol museum features the same quotes as his Washington Post story — the one that now carries an editor’s note explaining Rigney’s plagiarism.

iMediaEthics wrote to Christian Science Monitor editor John Yemma, asking if they knew of the plagiarism charges against Rigney, if CSM fact checked his work or would review Rigney’s work in light of the Post’s firing Rigney, and for further comment.

Yemma e-mailed iMediaEthics in response that CSM “bought a few pieces from him over the past few months but never had reason to suspect he was lifting copy, as has been alleged. We are now looking into articles we’ve published to determine whether there are problems with them. I’ll let you know what we discover.”

Yemma added that CSM won’t be using Rigney’s work going forward and that CSM doesn’t “tolerate plagiarism.”  Yemma wrote:

“Because of questions that have been raised — and also because of communication and followup problems Monitor editors have experienced with him — we have stopped working with him.

“We obviously don’t tolerate plagiarism. If we determine that plagiarism occurred in his articles, we will let our readers know in the appropriate way.”

StinkyJournalism wrote to Rigney over the weekend after the Washington Post’s Pexton’s column reported on the plagiarism accusations.  We haven’t had any response yet, but will update with any response.

We will also update with any further news on this case of alleged plagiarism. Thanks to reader “RGV”  for tipping us off to Rigney’s Christian Science Monitor story.

iMediaEthics has alsowritten to Berliner Unterwelten, the Berlin bunker club Rigney cites in an article for CSM and Washington Post, and the Andy Warhol museum in Slovakia to ask if either has any comment regarding Rigney’s articles. We will update with any response.

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Christian Science Monitor to Review WaPo Plagiarist’s Travel Stories

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