BuzzFeed Fires Writer Over Multiple Instances of Plagiarism

Site’s internal investigation uncovered 40 instances of plagiarism by writer Benny Johnson, who lifted from sources like Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers and U.S. News & World Report


Benny Johnson has been fired from BuzzFeed after an internal investigation uncovered multiple instances of plagiarism in his work. Editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote a post on the site Friday evening announcing the firing and apologizing to readers.

Twitter users first brought attention to several instances of plagiarism on BuzzFeed’s site, citing passages in articles written by Johnson which had been lifted word-for-word from other sites like Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers and U.S. News & World Report.

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Gawker posted the first story about the then-alleged plagiarism. That lead BuzzFeed to begin an investigation into the matter, where they “found 40 instances of sentences or phrases copied word for word from other sites,” according to Smith’s article.

Smith said that the site is “deeply embarrassed and sorry” about the incidents. BuzzFeed intends to correct all of the discovered instances of plagiarism, with an editor’s note added to each.

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“We have scores of aggressive reporters around the United States and the world, holding the people we cover to high standards. We must — and we will — hold ourselves to the same high standards,” Smith wrote. “We have more responsibility now than ever to get it right, to keep raising our standards, and to continue getting better.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.