We make mistakes at The Citizen and when we do, we inform you we make them and we set the record straight as soon as possible.
Some mistakes are names spelled wrong, numbers that don't add up, incorrect dates and so on. They are small but annoying mistakes that drive us - and our readers - crazy. In our aim to have every fact in every story, every headline and every photo caption correct, we fail sometimes and once is still once too many, even when we publish millions of words per year, recreating ourselves from scratch six days per week.
Today, we offer you our deepest apologies for plagiarism committed by a former member of the news staff.
While fact-checking an opinion piece written last week by this staff member, the similarity between the submitted work and a blog became apparent. The final paragraph of the submitted opinion piece was nearly verbatim to a similar paragraph in the middle portion of the blog. The staff writer did not credit the original writer or make any indication that the final paragraph of the opinion piece was written by someone else.
As a result of this discovery, the staff member was informed and an investigation of this staff member's work was undertaken. To our shock and dismay, multiple incidents of plagiarism were uncovered from work over the last number of months. The staff member plagiarized various online new publications, while writing opinion pieces that appeared in this space. Entire paragraphs were copied and then blended into articles, removing a word here and there, or adding a clause to link certain phrases, but leaving the words of the original writer all or mostly intact, without attribution to the original writer or publication.
As of Tuesday morning, that news staff member is no longer employed at this newspaper.
Plagiarism is a grievous moral offence among writers and journalists with broader implications. It's a violation of trust between our newspaper and this community. While our readers and advertisers may not like everything we print every day, we have built our business on trust and integrity. We will not tolerate any flagrant disrespect of that trust that we have worked hard to earn and strive to maintain in each issue, with each story, column and editorial we write.
There have been several high-profile incidents of plagiarism in both the Canadian and American press over the past several years, which illustrates that no newspaper, regardless of their size or prestige, is immune. Like those newspapers, we believe that being fully transparent and disclosing a transgression as serious as this one is important to retain the community's trust in our newspaper and the serious work done daily by our staff.
Once again, we offer our most sincere apologies to all of our readers and advertisers. We dealt with the matter quickly and decisively as soon as we became aware of the plagiarism.
Like all of our published mistakes, small and large, we inform our readers promptly and we take full responsibility.