NYT: Reporter ‘Improperly Used Specific Language And Details’ From Wikipedia

July 30, 2014 5:44 p.m.

The New York Times acknowledged Wednesday that reporter Carol Vogel “improperly used language and details from a Wikipedia article without attribution” in her recent piece on an Italian Renaissance painter.

Vogel’s July 24 article on Piero di Cosimo now has an “Editors’ Note” appended at the bottom:

Editors’ Note: July 30, 2014
The Inside Art column on July 25, about a planned exhibition of the works of the Renaissance painter Piero di Cosimo, started with a description of the artist’s life and eccentricities. That passage improperly used specific language and details from a Wikipedia article without attribution; it should not have been published in that form. (Editors learned of the problem after publication from a post on FishbowlNY.)

As indicated in the note, the similarities between Vogel’s article and the Wikipedia entry were first spotted by MediaBistro’s Richard Horgan on Monday.

The structure and language used in Vogel’s piece parallel the biographical section of the Wikipedia article on Piero.

In her lede, Vogel wrote:

He is said to have been terrified of thunderstorms and so pyrophobic that he rarely cooked his food, subsisting mostly on hard-boiled eggs that he prepared 50 at a time while heating glue for his art. He didn’t clean his studio. He didn’t trim the trees in his orchard. Giorgio Vasari, the Renaissance biographer, described Piero as living “more like a beast than a man.”

And here’s Wikipedia:

Reportedly, he was frightened of thunderstorms, and so pyrophobic that he rarely cooked his food; he lived largely on hard-boiled eggs, which he prepared 50 at a time while boiling glue for his artworks. He also resisted any cleaning of his studio, or trimming of the fruit trees of his orchard; he lived, wrote Vasari, “more like a beast than a man”.

Times public editor Margaret Sullivan offered her take on Wednesday, before the note was added to the disputed article, writing that the similarities between Vogel’s writing and the Wikipedia entry were unmistakeable.

“Anyone can see the similarity,” Sullivan wrote. “The question now is whether this is an isolated case or one of many instances. The Times is taking that question seriously.”

The paper is now trying to answer that very question. Dan Duray, a blogger at ARTNews, has already dug up four more instances in which Vogel may have engaged in plagiarism.

Another art blogger, Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes, took Vogel to task on three separate occasions last year for failing to properly cite the reporting of others.

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