Wikipedia Scalps a Journalist

Wikipedia isn’t always on the defensive, when it comes to getting things right: The Hawaii Reporter reports that the Honolulu Star-Bulletin has fired a reporter for plagiarism, after allegedly lifting material directly from Wikipedia:

Honolulu Star-Bulletin Editor Frank Bridgewater said today in a nearly 200-word front-page letter to readers on Friday, the 13th of January, that he had fired veteran entertainment reporter Tim Ryan following an investigation into his stories over the last several years. Ryan has been employed with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin since 1984.

Though Bridgewater does not acknowledge this in the letter, the internal investigation was prompted by two reports in Wikipedia.org and Hawaii Reporter, which documented that Ryan seemed to have lifted large sections of national stories – directly and without attribution – for his local reports.

Bridgewater admits only to Ryan’s stories containing “phrases or sentences that appeared elsewhere before being included, un-attributed, in stories that ran in the Star-Bulletin.”

The letter lists six stories, including a review of a PBS documentary about Aloha Airlines. The Aloha story page includes a footnote correction which does acknowledge that a portion “was taken verbatim from the Web site reference.com. The material was originally published in the online encyclopedia wikipedia.com. The article, on Page D6 Thursday, failed to attribute the information to either source.” Wikipedia had in the meantime run its own investigation of the journalist, the Reporter says,

after its editors discovered Ryan seemed to have taken large portions of his Honolulu Star-Bulletin Dec. 22, 2005, story on a PBS documentary about Aloha Flight 93 from an earlier Wikipedia.org story. The Wikipedia.org editors delved into his past entertainment reports noting similar trends in two additional stories Ryan authored that first appeared on NPR and in other national news sources.

14. January 2006 by jeremy
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