2008 was the year journalists’ sticky fingers as well as imaginations ran wild, as evidenced by Montreal author Craig Silverman’s annual compilation of plagiarism and fabrication on his blog Regret the Error. Early in the year, several papers across the pond were caught lifting passages from various sources. Most notably, The Sunday Times plagiarized content from the now defunct Radar Magazine in January.
Here in the states, January also saw the New York Press’s sex columnist swipe questions for her first column from Dan Savage‘s syndicated one. Even the Gray Lady wasn’t immune from a little pilfering. In February, The New York Times admitted reporter Alexei Barrionuevo copped a paragraph for a front page article from the Miami Herald. The heist was exposed by Jack Shafer of Slate. A few weeks later in March, Shafer exposed another incident of plagiarism by Barrinuevo, this time. Although The Times declined to comment on the discipline Barrinuevo received, he was not terminated.
Two strikes in under a month clearly wasn’t enough to teach Times reporters anything as another reporter lifted much of a piece about New York Governor David Paterson from City Hall, a Web site.
Also in March, memoirist Margaret B. Jones, who claimed to have been a foster child and gang member in Los Angeles was proven to have completely fabricated her story as well as her name.
Even the Washington Post kid’s poetry contest was not immune from fibbers. For the second year in a row, in April it was discovered the winning poem was plagiarized.
The world of sports saw much stealing in 2008, although the most memorable example did not involve baseball. Sports Illustrated’s Rick Reilly was plagiarized by not one but two outlets over the summer. Both a columnist by the Vancouver Providence as well as one for The Daily Herald did a bit of borrowing from Reilly. Rogers Sportsnet of Canada also fired a sports columnist and commentator after discovering he was a plagiarist as well.
The most flagrant run of plagiarism was exposed in August by Slate Magazine writer Jody Rosen who revealed that the Bulletin, a weekly paper in Texas was regularly pinching articles from a variety of sources. Following Rosen’s piece the Bulletin ceased publication.