Politico reporter resigns over plagiarism charges after the New York Times complains

Dylan Stableford

Kendra Marr, a reporter for Politico, resigned late Thursday after a New York Times writer alerted Politico editors of potential plagiarism in a piece she wrote. The complaint led to an examination of her work that produced at least seven more examples plagiarism.

Politico editor-in-chief John Harris and executive editor Jim VandeHei announced Marr's resignation in an editor's note.

"One of the inviolable principles of journalism, one we live by at Politico, is that the work we publish must be genuinely our own," the editors wrote. "Whenever we must rely on reporting or ideas that were first produced by others, our policy is to cite and/or link to these sources by name, and aim to be fully transparent with our audience. In all other instances, our readers deserve full confidence that the reporting and writing in Politico is original."

Harris and VandeHei explained the sequence of events:

Late in the evening of Wednesday, October 12, the writer of a piece about transportation policy published in the New York Times e-mailed one of our senior editors about potential problems with a piece on the same subject that was published in POLITICO. Early Thursday morning, editors here compared the pieces, and did see some similarities in phrasing. These were troubling enough to warrant further examination of reporter Kendra Marr's work.

This examination produced other examples of stories on transportation issues that bore troubling similarities to work earlier published by others. Some of these examples involved specific turns of phrase or passages that bore close resemblance to work published elsewhere. Others involved similarities in the way stories were organized to present their findings.

None of these examples represented invention of quotes, scenes, or other material. Our inquiry did conclude that there had been an unacceptable violation of our journalistic standards. Material published in our pages borrowed from the work of others, without attribution, in ways which we cannot defend and will not tolerate.

The editor's note described Marr, who joined Politico in 2009, as "a friend and colleague who has produced much outstanding work here and elsewhere." FishbowlDC.com said she was "a beloved reporter in the newsroom."

The seven stories identified by Politico have been amended with editor's notes similar to this one:

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story drew extensively on reporting from The New York Times without proper attribution. POLITICO regrets the omission. More information is available here.

The review found Marr also borrowed from the Associated Press, NJ.com and The Hill, among other publications.

Oddly, Politico--while including attribution--does not link to any of the original sources in Marr's updated pieces.

According to her Politico bio, Marr is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and international studies. She "spent a year reporting out of the White House briefing room" before shifting to the transportation beat. Before joining Politico, she covered finance for The Washington Post, and had contributed to the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Miami Herald.

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