The Atlantic Gives Writer Fired By Mic For Plagiarism A Second Chance

The Atlantic proved it believed in second chances on Wednesday when it published an essay by Jared Keller, a former staffer who was fired last month for plagiarism at the news startup Mic.

“We’re well aware of his mistakes,” Anna Bross, senior director of communications at The Atlantic, told TPM in an email after Keller’s piece — “What Makes Americans So Optimistic” — went up Wednesday morning.

Mic News fired Keller from his position as news director Feb. 12 after an internal investigation into his work sparked by a Gawker post, which found 20 instances of Keller lifting work from various media outlets.

“Plagiarism is unacceptable in any form and our editorial policies make that very clear,” Mic co-founder Jake Horowitz said at the time of Keller’s firing. “We appreciate Gawker bringing these issues to our attention, and as we continue our internal review, we’ll be transparently updating any story that violates our standards.”

In deciding to publish Keller, Bross told TPM that he was held to the same standards as all Atlantic contributors.

“We worked with Jared based on the merits of his pitch, as this piece shows,” she wrote. “And as goes for anyone who writes for us, we’ll hold him to the highest standards of what we do.”

Keller previously served as both an associate editor and social media editor at The Atlantic, as well as an associate writer at its political magazine, National Journal.

“Obviously, Jared has worked for National Journal and the Atlantic in the past,” Bross noted.

The Atlantic isn’t the first place to publish Keller after he was discovered plagiarizing. Pacific Standard, where Keller contributed on several times in 2013 and 2014, published a piece by Keller on Thursday.

Pacific Standard also published Keller on March 13 and March 18. The magazine did not respond immediately for request to comment.

The Daily Dot also published Keller on March 17 and March 20.

In three cases cited by the Gawker report, Keller appeared have copied material word-for-word without any link or citation to its source. In the remaining cases, he appeared to have lifted text from articles that were hyperlinked elsewhere in the article with no citation.

TPM also discovered that after Gawker’s report, a relevant passage in one of the articles, which appeared to lift text from Vox.com, had been altered with no update to the post.

On Feb. 12, Mic added an editor’s note acknowledging the change and added that “[t]he story has been updated to fully attribute Vox’s language.”

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