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BuzzFeed Fires Staffer for 40 Instances of Plagiarism

BuzzFeedLogoIt looks like the magic number was 40. BuzzFeed has decided to fire its viral politics editor, Benny Johnson, after finding that many instances of plagiarism in his work.

In a note to readers, BuzzFeed’s editor Ben Smith — who previously brushed off three examples of Johnson’s plagiarism — said the buck stopped with him and the site’s other editors:

We owe you, our readers, an apology. This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you — in this case, about who wrote the words on our site. Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or other sources, is an act of disrespect to the reader. We are deeply embarrassed and sorry to have misled you. Benny’s editors — I, Katherine Miller, John Stanton, Shani Hilton, and McKay Coppins — bear real responsibility.

In a memo provided to FishbowlNY by BuzzFeed, Smith elaborated on the situation. You can read it below.

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BuzzFeed is Totally Cool with Plagiarism [Updated]

BuzzFeedLogoAccording to Gawker, BuzzFeed’s viral politics editor Benny Johnson was caught plagiarizing material three different times. To make matters worse, Johnson copied material from Yahoo! Answers of all places.

You would think this would warrant some type of disciplinary action, but nope! This is BuzzFeed. When your site is known for churning out shit content, it doesn’t really matter if some of it was stolen.

In an email to Gawker, Ben Smith — BuzzFeed’s editor — shrugged his shoulders at the incidents:

We’re grateful to @blippoblappo and @crushingbort for pointing out these serious failures to properly attribute two quotations and to credit a source in a third post. We’ve corrected the posts.

Benny Johnson is one of the web’s deeply original writers, as is clear from his body of work.

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Commas are a Powerful Thing

Hmmm. Perhaps a better way to say this would be “BREAKING: Dutch military plane, carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash, lands in Eindhoven.”

WSJ’s Computer Systems Hacked

WSJ-twitter-logoSeveral computer systems that contain The Wall Street Journal’s news graphics have been hacked. The Journal reports that no damage had been done to the graphics systems and customer data remained safe.

“We are investigating an incident related to wsj.com’s graphics systems,” explained a Journal spokesperson. “At this point we see no evidence of any impact to Dow Jones customers or customer data.”

The Journal’s announcement comes in response to a hacker, who claimed he had tapped into wsj.com and would sell both user information and the code to manipulate the site. The vulnerability that allowed the hacker inside was located within the news graphics systems.

The Journal and a cybersecurity firm are monitoring the hacker and the site, but we’d say this is a good time to go ahead and change your wsj.com password.

Blake Lively is an Editor Now

Blake Lively is famous for saying words that other people write, but thanks to her new lifestyle site Preserve, perhaps one day we’ll think of her as an editor more than anything else.

Preserve, explained Lively in her inaugural editor’s note, is “part magazine, part e-commerce hub, part philanthropic endeavor and above all, a place to showcase the power of imagination, ingenuity, quality, and above all, people.” Also, above all, a site to write “above all” as much as you please.

“Here at Preserve there are people, stories, essays, videos and goods which hopefully inspire your home, your style and your tongue,” added the 26-year-old actress. “There’s expensive stuff. Inexpensive stuff. And everything in between. But their value, is up to you. We may romanticize it, calling it treasure. What we’re really saying is, we see worth on every level.” Apparently, there are no rules, when it comes to comma, usage, at Preserve.

What “treasures” are available on the site? Our favorite is either the $95 crate or the $18 spoon that has “Let’s Spoon” engraved on it. We’ve never been more inspired.

[Image: JStone / Shutterstock.com]

Slate Names Dan Kois Culture Editor

Dan Kois GSlate has named Dan Kois its new culture editor. Kois, a senior editor at Slate, was most recently editor of the site’s Book Review section. He is also a contributor to The New York Times Magazine.

As the founding editor of New York’s culture blog, Vulture, Kois has plenty of pop culture chops. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Awl, Oxford American and Television Without Pity.

Julia Turner, Slate’s new editor-in-chief, announced Kois’ appointment on Twitter.

The New Yorker Launches Revamped Website

The New Yorker’s website has a brand new look. The revamped newyorker.com has a good amount of white space — which makes reading easier — and highlights one featured article on the homepage and each subsection.

The updated newyorker.com is less difficult to navigate than the previous version. Each subsection is listed at the top of the page and new content is clearly marked under a section titled “The Latest.” The new site, according to a note from the glossy’s editors, gives staffers more flexibility when reacting to the news of the day.

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A Consolidation of Brooklyn Hyper-Local

BensonhurstBeanBannerThis particular media merger did not exactly make headlines. But you can bet any and all interested in the future of hyper-local will be paying close attention.

From metropolitan news reporter Vivian Yee‘s article in the New York Times:

Last week, [Ned] Berke merged Sheepshead Bites and its sister site, Bensonhurst Bean, into Corner Media, a network of neighborhood blogs run by Liena Zagare that will now reach a combined 250,000 readers every month. Zagare and Berke, who is a senior editor as well as an associate publisher of the network, say their approach — intensely local, intimate and community-based, with a heart — is the future of hyper-local journalism, a business that industry watchers have long forecast as the future of journalism itself.

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Cosmo Launches Subscription-Based Fitness Channel

Cosmopolitan has launched a subscription-based digital fitness channel. CosmoBody will stream exercise, wellness and lifestyle programs for $9.95 per month. There is a 10-day free trail available.

CosmoBody will include workouts from eight trainers plus other specialized content, like Cosmo’s editor Joanna Coles interviewing Kate Upton; week-long fitness challenges; cooking shows that focus on healthy foods; and more. One of the more interesting aspects of CosmoBody is that it allows users to track their progress, and eventually they’ll be able to sync the data with wearable fitness devices.

Coles and Cosmo’s fitness editor, Liz Plosser, played big roles in developing the content for CosmoBody. The questions is: Will it be enough to bring in the subscriptions? Because if the content doesn’t shine, people are not going to pay for this.

Sports Illustrated Sets Web Traffic Record with LeBron James Essay

FishbowlNY called it. When LeBron James announced his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers via an essay on Sports Illustrated’s site, we said SI.com would be setting records. Lo and behold, it did. James’ piece attracted 6.1 million unique visitors to SI.com, good for its most UVs ever.

James’ essay beat out the old record holder — Richard Sherman’s column on MMQB — by almost two million UVs. Sherman’s article, posted in late January, netted 4.3 million UVs.

Turns out having the best player in the NBA write for you is a good thing. Who knew? Aside from us, we mean.

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