Washington Post apologizes for plagiarized articles; suspends Pulitzer-winner

Michael Calderone
The Cutline
Washington Post

The Washington Post apologized Wednesday for publishing two articles in March that "contained substantial material that was borrowed and duplicated, without attribution, from The Arizona Republic newspaper."

"This is the most serious kind of matter for a news organization," executive editor Marcus Brauchli said in a statement to The Cutline. "Taking information without attribution is unethical and not in keeping with The Post's standards of journalism. There are no mitigating circumstances for plagiarism."

The Post, in the apology, doesn't name the reporter or link to the articles in question. But from the paper's own description of the articles, published shortly after the Tucson shooting, they appear to be written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sari Horwitz.

The first—published online March 4 and in the print edition the following day—included "two paragraphs about a provision in federal civil rights law that applies to hate crimes that were copied from the Republic's work" along with facts republished without attribution from the Arizona paper.

The second—appearing online March 10 and in the print edition the following day—include information investigators discovered in suspected gunman Jared Loughner's home that "was substantially drawn from an article that appeared in The Republic."

How much was borrowed? "Ten of the article's 15 paragraphs were copied in whole or in part from an article that first appeared in the Republic," according to the Post editor's note.

On March 14, Arizona Republic editor Randy Lovely contacted Brauchli and the paper's ombudsman over the two articles in question, according to the Post. In a review of Horwitz' work over the past year, there were no other instances of plagiarism.

Still, for the two articles in question, "immediate, severe, and appropriate action" was taken, according to the Post. It's unclear exactly what that entailed.

Update: Horwitz has been suspended, according to a Post article published Wednesday night.

(Photo: AP)