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Washington Post Admits Plagiarism in Arizona Shooting Coverage

Paper says Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Sari Horwitz borrowed ”substantial material“ from the Arizona Republic

The Washington Post apologized on Wednesday for plagiarizing material from the Arizona Republic.

In an editor's note posted on the Post's website, the paper said it published two articles earlier this month containing "substantial material that was borrowed and duplicated, without attribution" from the Republic.

Both articles — about the indictment of Jared Lee Loughner in the Arizona shootings — were written by Sari Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Post.

In the first article ("Federal grand jury in Tucson shootings indicts Loughner on 46 new charges"), published online on March 4 and in print on March 5, two paragraphs were copied from the Republic’s work, the Post said. The article "also included without attribution other facts previously reported by the Republic."

In the second ("Court documents: Police found evidence of Loughner's obsession with Giffords"), published online March 10 and in print on March 11, 10 of the 15 paragraphs were "copied in whole or in part from an article that first appeared in the Republic."

A spokesperson for the Post said "immediate, severe and appropriate" action was taken, though it's not clear if that includes Horwitz's suspension or firing. The spokesperson declined to elaborate, citing a "longstanding policy of not discussing specific personnel actions."

"The Post’s policy that the use of material from other newspapers or sources must be properly attributed," the editor's note reads. "The Post apologizes to the Arizona Republic and to its readers for this serious lapse."

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