OLD Media Moves

NYT biz reporter Kouwe had been accused of plagiarism before

February 16, 2010

Teri Buhl, a staff writer for the Hearst Connecticut papers, notes that New York Times business reporter Zachery Kouwe had been accused of plagiarism earlier than the recent allegations lobbied by The Wall Street Journal.

Buhl writes, “Examples of his copying other journalists’ reporting and sourcing it as his own went back to 2008 -– a few month after he left the New York Post and started with NYT’s Dealbook.

“On Dec. 26, 2008, an online publication covering the housing market, Mortgage Implode-O-Meter, published an exclusive news report that a group of financial services firms, led by Steven Mnuchin of Dune Capital, would be buying failed IndyMac Bank from the FDIC. IndyMac was one of the first large thrift banks to be seized by the FDIC at the start of the financial crisis.

“A day later, Kouwe reported for the NYT’s Dealbook that Dune Capital was expected to buy IndyMac and added two other names of buyers, JC Flowers and John Paulson, to the story. Kouwe’s report did not credit Mortgage Implode-O-Meter for first breaking the fact that 1) a private equity group was buying IndyMac 2) Dune Capital was involved.”

Buhl later reports that, “Kouwe continued to report news throughout 2009 that had first appeared on Dealbreaker, such as hedge fund returns on assets, but no one was able to prove he didn’t get the documents sourced on his own. Dealbreaker readers continue to voice concerns on the publication’s comment section. In the age of fast-paced reporting on market-moving news, sources do chose to leak documents to multiple publications at about the same time.

“The question still unanswered is how much of Kouwe’s reporting was he really ‘borrowing’ from the other publication, and did he violate journalistic ethics.  Regarding how stories are sourced, it’s not like there are the  independent journalism police out there to fine or talk about your credentials. It’s a gray line that is often at the discretion of the publication.”

Read more here.

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