When so many people have access to Google, it’s tough to get away with plagiarising others’ work, as BuzzFeed political writer Benny Johnson found out Friday.
Allegations that Johnson was using passages from Wikipedia without attribution surfaced late last week, and the viral news and listicle site was standing by its man. But when readers presented editor Ben Smith with multiple examples that Johnson copied passages from other sources, the site launched its own investigation. By Friday evening, Johnson had been dismissed and BuzzFeed had issued a public apology to its readers.
Smith detailed the investigation in a story published Sunday by the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple.
“I was hoping what I’d find was a handful of instances from beginning and then somebody who had figured it out,” Smith told Wemple.
Turns out they found 41 different instances where Johnson lifted passages in articles ranging from “15 Tips to Avoid Eating Horse Meat” to “7 Badass Things You Should Not Forget About Harry Reid.” That’s close to ten percent of Johnson’s output.
For his part, Johnson apologized in a tweet to “the writers who were not properly attributed.”
To the writers who were not properly attributed and anyone who ever read my byline, I am sincerely sorry. http://t.co/WpkZIi4g9k
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 26, 2014