In December 2008, NYT business reporter Zachery Kouwe was accused by a business-news website of taking its scoop about a financial-services merger, and publishing it in the NYT as his original reporting.
The website complained to Kouwe and his boss, Andrew Ross Sorkin, the editor of theNYT's Dealbook blog, where the scoop appeared. Sorkin never replied, but -- according to a detailed account of the episode that appeared on the Greenwich Time website this afternoon -- Kouwe replied that he didn't feel it was necessary to credit the original source of a news story.
"Readers just don't care," Kouwe told the website's editors in the email reply. "They don't read bylines and they don't care about whether one paper cited a website or another paper in their stories."
But websites did care. On January 12, 2009, the website Dealbreaker got the NYT's Dealbook blog to acknowledge that Kouwe had stolen its scoop -- about a joint venture between Citigroup and Morgan Stanley -- and represented as his own.
An Editor's Note appeared on the NYT's Dealbook blog that day, acknowledging that Kouwe had stolen his scoop from the Dealbreaker website:
DealBreaker first broke the news of the memo on its Web site. A DealBook reporter confirmed the memo’s authenticity with Citigroup’s press office and posted a copy of the memo from Dealbreaker’s Web site. A link to the original DealBreaker post should have been included.
Today's Greenwich Time story strongly implies that the NYT must have been aware of the repeated allegations against Kouwe, who frequently reported stories that first appeared on the Dealbreaker website.
The writer of the Greenwich Time account -- the first to report on these allegations against Kouwe over stolen scoops -- was written by Teri Buhl, who is identified as having freelanced for Dealbreaker and Implode-O-Meter before joining the staff of Hearst CT Newspapers. It was Implode-o-Meter whose emails prompted Kouwe's above admission that he routinely didn't give credit to other sources for their scoops.
"I don't know what to tell you," Kouwe wrote to Implode-O-Meter in response to their objection. "Things move so quickly on the Web that citing who had it first is something that is likely going away, especially in the age of blogs."
More likely to go away first is Kouwe himself, whose fate is reportedly being decided as this is written, at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after an Editor's Note first alleged that Kouwe had plagiarized portions of articles in the WSJ and elsewhere.
The Greenwich Time story reports that Kouwe has told friends "he doesn't think the NYT can afford to keep him on staff and assumes responsibility now for his actions."