Ethics Violations Identified In Several NPR Music and WQXR Reports
Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 10:12 AM
NPR Music editors have determined that phrases in 10 stories filed jointly on the NPR Music and WQXR websites were copied from other sources without attribution. They were written for NPR and WQXR by Brian Wise, the online editor at WQXR, a classical radio station owned by New York Public Radio. Effective Oct. 28, Mr. Wise resigned following the discovery of plagiarism in these stories.
An editor’s note has been posted on each of the NPR Music and WQXR pages where evidence of this was uncovered. The reports that were on those pages have been collected and moved to one page, where the phrases at issue have been highlighted and links have been added to the sources where they first appeared. NPR and WQXR chose not to delete the materials, because one of our core principles is “accountability.” In its Ethics Handbook, NPR states that: “We take full responsibility for our work, so we must always be ready and willing to answer for it. Just as careful attention to our sources makes a story stronger, careful listening to our public makes our journalism better. So we welcome questions or criticisms from our stakeholders and to the best of our ability, we respond.”
The instances which took place were discovered last week by an NPR.org copy editor working on a piece that Mr. Wise had submitted. That piece has not been posted on NPR.org or WQXR.org. After discovering that some key phrases in the piece had previously appeared elsewhere, the editor alerted newsroom management at NPR and WQXR. A review was then begun of the other 40 pieces Mr. Wise had written jointly for NPR.org and WQXR since 2008. That review turned up the other instances between April 2011 and the unpublished piece in October 2015. WQXR is in the process of conducting a thorough examination of all of Wise’s pieces written exclusively for WQXR.org. So far, WQXR has not discovered further instances of plagiarism. WQXR will update its site if it does so.
NPR’s policy is clear: plagiarism is unacceptable. Likewise, New York Public Radio’s policy is indisputable: “Plagiarism is an unforgivable offense. NYPR staff members do not take other people’s work and present it as our own.” There is nothing in journalism that is more important than the trust between a news organization and its audience. The hundreds of journalists at NPR and NYPR and across public radio devote their careers to upholding that trust every day. We apologize to our audiences and to those who had their work copied without credit.
- Michael Oreskes, SVP for News, NPR
- Graham Parker, General Manager, WQXR