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Update: Times' Plagiarist Resigns

Former New York Times reporter Zachery Kouwe might not know plagiarism when he is committing it, but he sure knows how to find the fire exit before the flames swallow him.

Kouwe resigned from his position at the newspaper Tuesday after his editors were convinced he had lifted copy from multiple sources without any attribution, and then called it his own.

Kouwe is now the second reporter in two weeks from a high-profile news-provider found to be a plagiarizer.
Last week The Daily Beast suspended investigative reporter Gerald Posner for stealing copy from other sources.

The New York Observer's John Koblin talked with both Kouwe and Times' executives in this thorough piece that recounts the events leading up to the 31-year-old business reporter's resignation.

This was no one-off, oops, I-made-a-mistake thing.
Like Posner, Kouwe was found to be a serial offender of journalism's high crime. And like Posner, Kouwe just doesn't know how he could do such a thing-- given he obviously knows better and all.

Here's how Kouwe explained the crime in Koblin's piece:

"I was as surprised as anyone that this was occurring. "I write essentially 7,000 words every week for the blog and for the paper and all that stuff. As soon as I saw, I guess, like six examples, I said to myself, 'Man what an idiot. What I was thinking?'"

Either he was thinking he would get away with it, or up until he was caught, had no idea that stealing other people's copy was wrong.
He goes on later in the story to say that maybe he was pushing himself too hard and just got careless.

Sorry for typing that last bit, folks, I know it smells like a garbage bin.

As I mentioned yesterday, I really fear that we are in the middle of an outbreak of plagiarism that could potentially leave an ugly stain on all alleged original content. There is simply too much information being processed too fast on the Internet these days. Checks and balances are obviously sorely lacking.

Every time a Posner or a Kouwe pulls this kind of ugly stunt it eats away at the credibility of what other honest, hard-working journalists and writers are providing their readers.

I did take heart toward the end of Koblin's story when he typed this:

In the coming days, inevitably, The Times will look inward to ask whether the pace of publishing in the blogs can be sustained given the level of editorial oversight they obviously need.

Good.
But until this plague is wiped out for good, sadly, you really won't be able to believe everything you read -- even in venerable publications like The New York Times.