Politico sets example for plagiarism protocol

Last Thursday, Politico reporter Kendra Marr resigned after accusations of plagiarism in several stories she did for the Washington, D.C., news outlet. It’s not a new topic of discussion: over the years, several plagiarism or fabrication cases involving journalists have plagued a profession that ideally seeks truth and transparency in all coverage.

Marr’s case hits especially close to home for many of us. A 2007 Northwestern University graduate, Marr worked on her college paper and nabbed what many up-and-coming journalists would call the ultimate dream: a chance to work for The Washington Post and later Politico, covering business, politics and transportation.

While we don’t know the exact details of Marr’s case, the plagiarism accusations have been proven correct. A New York Times reporter brought details of disturbingly similar paragraphs and turns of phrase that made it seem as if Marr had lifted entire sections of her articles straight from The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Hill and other sources.

It’s not hard to feel sympathy for Marr. Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple stated a very probable theory: Marr had moved onto a new and complicated beat and was simply unable to keep up with the demands it presented.

But plagiarism is plagiarism, and we commend Politico for the speed with which it conducted the investigation and dealt with the problem that was discovered, writing a lengthy editor’s note explaining the situation. Plagiarism in any field should never be taken lightly. In school, it’s grounds for almost immediate expulsion. Why should the professional world be any different?

We’ll be the first to admit that maintaining truth in journalism is, of course, an obvious priority, if not also an incredibly daunting task for any news outlet. Just as college news has its challenges, so does the professional news world. But in refusing to tolerate plagiarism, Politico has done a service to its readers. We hope that others can follow the same protocol.