Journalism Crime Comitter Covers Justice Department Position

Sara Horwitz, an investigative reporter for the Washington Post for over 20 years was exposed for plagirizing from The Arizona Republic last March. “Plagiarism is one of journalism’s unforgivable sins.”according to The Washington Post’s internal code of standards and ethics and essentially everyone in the field of journalism. Horwitz was suspended without pay for three months by the Post as its executive editor frantically attempted damage control by issuing a public apology. Horwitz  paragraphs from two online posts from the Arizona Republic regarding a Tuscon murder case.

What is interesting about this story is that The Washington Post seems to have entirely forgotten about Horwitz’s violation as they recently announced that Sari Horwitz would be taking over the Justice Department. What? Apparently plagiarism isn’t one of the Post’s “unforgivable sins”. In Marcus Brauchli public apology last March he stated how sorry the Post was for this “serious lapse”. He later stated that “Sari screwed up. She knows she screwed up.” as if she were a naive child and not a three-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who is certainly acquainted with journalism ethics. When a news company is busted for plagarisim their entire credibility is questioned.  The fact that Horwitz is even allowed to work for the Post again is alarming to me but the fact that she is now taking over the Justice Department is shear irony. In Horwitz’s apology she wrote that she made a mistake ““Under the pressure of tight deadlines”. As a public affairs issue it should be concerning to readers to know that someone who has proven to be untrustworthy will now be heading the Justice Department- a field that needs to delicately handle the truth more than any other. What do you think? Should today’s fast-paced continuous deadlines created by online reporting be considered an excuse to plagiarize?  Did the Post do the right thing by giving Horwitz this powerful position?

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2 Comments on “Journalism Crime Comitter Covers Justice Department Position”

  1. cailinob says:

    There is no excuse to plagiarize. Why should she be essentially whining about tight deadlines? If you can’t handle deadlines that approach quickly — you shouldn’t be a journalist. It’s pretty simple. Overall, I feel as though Horwitz actions were unforgivable — and I find it alarming that the post has essentially slapped her on the wrist and given her a new project to keep her busy.

    Shouldn’t Horwitz have been fired rather than given a new department to head? If journalists see that they can get away with plagiarism after a simple and brief public apology, credibility could deplete quickly. That isn’t to say that all journalists will abandon their morals — but there is no denying that sloppy work among some will begin to run rampant. Also, instances such as this give the public another reason to distrust big media. During a time when Americans already find it hard to trust the media in guarding against government, and ethical media is more important than ever. How can the people be expected to trust a media that can’t even keep its eyes on its own paper?

    The whole thing is, in a word, sickening.

  2. ugakramer425 says:

    I love your description of “shear irony” b/c you’re so right — if anything, don’t give her justice to cover! This is a tough issue b/c plagiarism is such a serious offense in journalism. From day one in any Intro to News Writing class, it’s stressed just how significant of a crime it is. I feel like that constant emphasis should be clear enough for any reporter to know the consequences of committing a wrongdoing that defies the primary law of journalism.


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