The NYT says Kouwe "appears to have improperly appropriated wording and passages published by other news organizations....without attribution or acknowledgement."
The Editor's Note -- which avoids the word "plagiarism" in describing Kouwe's actions -- goes on to say that a followup investigation turned up "other cases of extensive overlap between passages in Mr. Kouwe’s articles and other news organizations’. " But the note doesn't specify those cases, or give the precise number of other similarities it has found so far.
"The matter remains under investigation by The Times," the Editor's Note concludes, "which will take appropriate action consistent with our standards to protect the integrity of our journalism."
It isn't clear what action, if any, the NYT has yet taken to punish Kouwe for the appropriations the NYT is revealing in this note. Nor is it clear the extent of Kouwe's borrowings, beyond the NYT's vague reference to "a number" of instances.
We have emailed NYT spokeswoman Diane McNulty and Kouwe for comment, and will update as soon as we have more information.
Kouwe came to the NYT in the fall of 2008 from his position as mergers and acquisitions reporter at the Post, where he had worked the previous three years. Kouwe is a major contributor to the NYT's highly successful Dealbook blog, run by Andrew Ross Sorkin. Over the last 14 months, Kouwe has covered the Bernard Madoff scheme and various insider trading investigations.
According to Kouwe's biography on the NYT website, he got a B.A. in economics at Hamilton College, followed by a master's degree in journalism at the University of Colorado. He is originally from Tampa, Florida.
The NYT says it was alerted to Kouwe's apparent plagiarism by editors at the WSJ, who observed what it considered "extensive similarities between a Journal article, first published on The Journal’s Web site around 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 5, and a DealBook post published two hours later, as well as a related article published in The Times on Feb 6."
Here are passages from the one story the NYT Editor's Note cited as an example. The plagiarism is clearly identifiable.
From the WSJ version:
In agreeing to the asset freezes, the family members denied any "liability or culpability," according to "consent orders" filed in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan and signed by the family members, a lawyer for the trustee and the judge overseeing the case. The family members agreed not to transfer or sell property or assets valued at more than $1,000 or incur debts and obligations greater than $1,000 without approval of the trustee. They are allowed to use credit cards for necessary living expenses. The defendants also will provide the trustee with an accounting of their expenditures, the orders say.
Last year Mr. Madoff's wife, Ruth, also agreed to an asset freeze as part of a separate trustee's $45 million lawsuit against her.
From Kouwe's story:
The family members denied any “liability or culpability” in the fraud in agreeing to the asset freeze and said that while they did not agree with the move, they decided not to risk the expense of fighting it.
Under the agreement, the family members cannot transfer or sell property or assets valued at more than $1,000 or incur debts and obligations greater than $1,000 without approval of Mr. Picard. They are allowed to use credit cards for necessary living expenses. The defendants also will provide the trustee with an accounting of their expenditures.
Last year, Mr. Madoff’s wife, Ruth, also agreed to an asset freeze as part of a separate trustee’s $45 million lawsuit against her.
UPDATE: A NYT spokeswonan has declined to comment on whether Kouwe continues to work at the paper.
"We don't comment on personnel issues," the spokeswoman, Diane McNulty, told The NYTPicker via email, adding that "the investigation is ongoing."
Curiously, Kouwe had a byline in the Saturday, Feberuary 13 NYT, less than 48 hours before the editors' note appeared. Does this mean the NYT's editors learned of Kouwe's apparent plagiarism only in the last two days?