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Resignation of New Yorker writer revives questions about media ethics

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“The problem is as old as journalism,” says Stephen Ward, director of the Center for Media Ethics at the University of Wisconsin. "It's a systemic issue, it's a case of extreme pressure being put on people. Newsrooms are hot competitive environments, and whether that's on Wall Street or at The New Yorker, people may take chances to get noticed."

Two years ago, Daily Beast chief investigative reporter Gerald Posner resigned after it was revealed that he’d plagiarized sentences from other writers’ stories – he says he did so inadvertently, by rewriting things he’d read online. The New York Times was stunned in 2003 when it discovered reporter Jayson Blair had fabricated and plagiarized stories.

The problem is not limited to print. Earlier this year, Mike Daisey was forced to admit he had exaggerated storytelling about Chinese factories making iPods and Apple hardware in a story broadcast on the public radio program “This American Life.” 

The most notorious case might be Janet Cooke, whose Pulitzer-Prize winning 1980 Washington Post story featured a person who did not exist. 

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