Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nada Behziz back in the news.

Media: This time her old paper the Daily Republic has found two stories that were plagiarised.

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) Editors of The Daily Republic are investigating the work of a former reporter fired from another newspaper last month for plagiarism. So far, they reported finding two instances of plagiarism from the writer, who worked in Fairfield two years ago. Nada Behziz was fired from The Californian of Bakersfield after editors found her work filled with improperly attributed quotes, paragraphs that appeared to have been lifted from other publications and named sources who couldn't be found. The Daily Republic said it also found what it believes are excerpts of stories from other newspapers that Behziz used as her own work. Behziz has said that she never intentionally plagiarized but conceded some sloppiness in her reporting. She worked for The Daily Republican from June 2003 to April 2004, covering Vacaville, Solano Community College and the crime beat.
Her last newspaper now finds numerous instances of plagiarism.
Before she was fired Oct. 17 for plagiarism and fabrication, former Bakersfield Californian reporter Nada Behziz signed her name to 96 stories. A Californian investigation shows more than a third contain a variety of serious problems including plagiarized material, misattributed quotes and information, factual errors or people whose existence could not be verified -- including seven physicians and a UCLA professor. Behziz, 25, the paper's health writer since February, frequently plagiarized -- presenting other reporters' work as her own. And in some cases, she invented sources and then attributed plagiarized quotes to them. An e-mail from a reader raised questions about a quotation in an Oct. 16 story about teens and smoking. An inquiry the next day revealed the story contained plagiarized material and individuals whose existence could not be confirmed. Behziz was fired and editors launched an investigation to examine all of Behziz's stories. Reporters are expected to do original reporting for their stories, said Executive Editor Mike Jenner. When they cite material published elsewhere, they must attribute it, Jenner said. "I'm deeply disappointed we didn't discover this sooner," Jenner said. "We are taking steps to prevent it in the future." ....Work from major newspapers such as The New York Times and Los Angeles Times shows up. So do stories from far-flung titles including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Detroit Free Press, along with closer-to-home publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and The Sacramento Bee. Some plagiarized sources were a day old, others a decade. The Californian used plagiarism-detecting software from MyDropBox.com, along with reader tips and Internet searches to identify possible problematic passages. Staffers then verified suspected cases with Web searches. Even Behziz's first article for The Californian, a routine piece about a job fair that ran Feb. 3, contained six paragraphs of background information plagiarized from a United Press International story. Two national experts from the original source were merged in the plagiarized segment. ....Behziz arrived at The Californian in early 2005 with seemingly sterling credentials. A journalism degree from San Francisco State University was bolstered by prestigious awards, good references, several years worth of real-world experience and an internship at the respected Center for Investigative Reporting in the San Francisco Bay area. Her references gave no indication of any problems. But Behziz's past work was not as flawless as it seemed, The Californian has learned. While Behziz did attend San Francisco State University, from the spring of 2001 through spring 2003, a degree was not awarded, according to Joyce Broughton, a verification specialist with the college. In recent years, The Californian had used a degree-checking service provided by a contractor to screen job applicants, but that service was suspended at the time of Behziz's hire. It has since been reinstated. "Going forward we will be much more stringent in checking the background of applicants," Jenner said.
Read the whole thing, it is stunning not only because of plagiarism,that the Californian took so long to notice it. It also shows the paper itself has some house cleaning to do in terms of copy editors and strengthen hiring practices.

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