Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Phoenix | WashPo apologizes for plagiarized stories

[Updated at 10:31 a.m. ET March 17. The Post now says it has suspended Horwitz for three months.]

Arizona Republic Editor Randy Lovely contacted The Washington Post over the two Tucson, Ariz., shooting articles in question, the paper said today. In its apology, the Post doesn't identify the reporter or link to the articles in question, according to Michael Calderone of Yahoo's Cutline blog.

But from the paper's description of the articles, published shortly after the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Jan. 8, they appear to be written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sari Horwitz, says Calderone.

Horwitz has since acknowledged she was the reporter in question. Lovely told The New York Times: “I think it’s an unfortunate situation, and I have great respect for the Post. Certainly it’s a very difficult situation when a reporter violates a basic tenet of our profession.”

In a statement, Horwitz apologized and cited deadline pressure. “It was wrong. It was inexcusable,” she said, according to the NYT. “And it is one of the cardinal sins in journalism. I apologize to the Arizona Republic and its reporters and editors.”

A Post spokeswoman would not say what action was taken against Horwitz but said it was “immediate, severe and appropriate,” the NYT said.


  1. She's been suspended:
    Not punishment enough, in my view. She's notorious for this, but she is much loved by the powers that be. If they do a Jack Kelley investigation on her, they are going to find a hell of a lot of troublesome stuff that could force them to give back this Pulitzer, too.

  2. Suspended for plagiarizing...she'll be hired by HuffPo tomorrow.

  3. Janet Cooke, African-American, young: Fired.
    Sari Horwitz, white, middle aged: 3 month suspension.

  4. Why is it when someone of supposed "prominence" in our profession like her violates the main rule of our profession...... we call it "unfortunate"?


    No, wrong word. Pitiful, pathetic, typical of today's reporters, scurilous... all these comes to mind.

    But I just love it when it is one of our own... we call the act "unfortunate."

  5. 7:06 What Horwitz did was bad. What Cooke did was far worse: She fabricated an entire story.

  6. Deadline pressure? That's a reason? Makes me wonder about everything else Horwitz wrote.

    And where is Janet Cooke these days? I remember that Gannett hired her not long after she was fired from the WP. How anyone could ever give her a press job again is beyond me!

  7. You've got that right, Jim. Janet Cooke fabricated every inch of her story. She could have made a bundle selling it as fiction, but instead chose to lie to the readers.

  8. Three month suspension? Give me a break! She should be exiled from the business. Although I guess she could become a talking head. Maybe Spitzer would like a new partner on CNN.

  9. Friends,
    HR departments sometimes rule in setting review. Suspension can include further review to develop a legally tight case for dismissal. We all know it's best when you can say, rule broken and you are gone, but the legal system has made it tou on employers firing people.
    Give WAPO some credit for first finding how culpable they might be in enabling and trying to get the bottom of it all with latitude to do the research while retaining the employee. Things change when she is fired.

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