WNYC removes dozens of articles over attribution issues

WNYC removed forty-five stories from its websites, wnyc.org and Gothamist.com, according to an announcement on the site today, because they contained “unattributed passages from other sources,” in forty-two of the cases, and had been “published on other websites by the author” in three of the cases.

It is the latest development in a long-running series of investigations at the station and its websites over attribution, which CJR detailed as part of a longer story about the newsroom’s recent struggles

The articles were all written by one person, as Audrey Cooper, the station’s editor in chief, told her staff in a newsroom-wide meeting today, according to a recording of that meeting. She declined to name the person, but said the time frame for the retracted stories stretched back to 2010. 

The stories were uncovered after the station commissioned an outside auditor, she said. Cooper then reviewed the articles herself using Grammarly and Copyscape software. Cooper said the station appended editors’ notes to each article “as soon as we confirmed the findings of an outside auditor.”

She said the station will continue to remove articles that violate editorial standards as it finds them, and that the station has searched for plagiarism on air, though that process is much more challenging.

“We take these issues really seriously and we are addressing them as part of a process with our legal and HR teams right now. Due to the fact that we are doing that process and the confidentiality of those processes, I’m afraid I don’t have a lot more to say than that,” she said. 

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Savannah Jacobson is a contributor to CJR.