BuzzFeed writer Benny Johnson fired for plagiarism

Sat Jul 26, 2014 5:00pm EDT

Buzzfeed employees work at the company's headquarters in New York January 9, 2014.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Buzzfeed employees work at the company's headquarters in New York January 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - The news and entertainment website BuzzFeed has fired the writer Benny Johnson after its editors said they found he plagiarized others' work 41 times.

BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith in a note late on Friday called writer Benny Johnson "a creative force" at his best, but said a review of more than 500 posts revealed dozens of instances where he copied sentences and phrases verbatim from other websites.

Smith said the plagiarism on the seven-year-old site was brought to light this week by Twitter users.

"Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or other sources, is an act of disrespect to the reader," Smith wrote. "We are deeply embarrassed and sorry to have misled you."

Johnson, whose eclectic range of posts with attribution issues cited by BuzzFeed included items on miracle babies, things that are definitely bigger in Texas, and how to avoid eating horse meat, apologized via Twitter on Saturday.

"To the writers who were not properly attributed and anyone who ever read my byline, I am sincerely sorry," he said.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by David Gregorio)

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