With over 130 years of independent student journalism, The Michigan Daily’s mission is to maintain “impartiality, fairness and the complete truth.” The editorial leadership of The Daily holds the concepts of journalistic integrity, accountability and transparency in the highest regard and we — as student journalists, University of Michigan students and Ann Arbor residents — derive a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities and responsibilities this institution has afforded us.
That said, in order to maintain transparency and hold ourselves accountable in pursuing that mission, we are notifying our readers that on Feb. 28, The Daily’s Managing Editor discovered numerous instances of plagiarism during the editing process in an ultimately unpublished Arts column submission. A day later, the individual who was found to have plagiarized — an Arts writer and The Statement contributor — was notified of their termination as a Daily staffer. As stated in The Daily’s bylaws, “A violation of these bylaws and/or the ethics code is cause for dismissal. … Plagiarism is a fireable offense, but should be considered in the context of the situation.” Per the bylaws, the individual appealed the firing, inviting a formal investigation and hearing to take place. Over the course of the following week, the Managing Editor met with a panel of nine editors across three sections to review all published articles by the individual to check for any other instances of plagiarism.
Unfortunately, in addition to the latest unpublished column submission by the individual, four other articles published September 2020 to December 2020 were found to have varying levels of plagiarism. Since the individual appealed the firing, The Daily’s Management Desk met on Sunday, March 14, to review the case. Management Desk determined that the writer’s plagiarism was intentional, that the firing should not be overturned and that the individual should not be allowed to join another section of The Daily. Seventy-six Management Desk members were present, and all three items were passed with majority support.
Over the past two weeks since the initial discovery of plagiarism, we have taken steps to combat further instances of this unethical and unacceptable behavior. The Daily’s Copy Desk, as well as the Managing Editor, now use a plagiarism database checker; between the Copy team and the Managing Editor, all published editorial content will be scanned for plagiarism moving forward.
It is important to note that The Daily’s Arts content was not edited by the Copy Desk until January of this year and, based on comprehensive education of no-tolerance policies regarding stealing others’ work put in place by both The Daily and the University, section editors do not anticipate occurrences of plagiarism. No matter the intent, plagiarism is unacceptable and stands in stark contrast with the ethical values and goals of The Daily.
With that in mind, the following articles containing plagiarism have been permanently removed from our website:
- ‘Raised by Wolves’ is a religious sci-fi mashup — Sept. 7, 2020
- Without live audiences, Ann Arbor comedians search for ways to perform — Sept. 24, 2020
- Good dog or bad dog? A condensed almanac of canines in history — Oct. 21, 2020
- The Humor Column’s guide to off-campus housing — Dec. 3, 2020
As we remain deeply invested in maintaining the transparency and integrity of The Daily, we apologize on behalf of our institution. As student journalists, we sincerely hope that this incident can be a learning process for all those involved and that we can all be better for it. It is our honor and privilege to provide our community with daily content, and we will continue to do so with an upgraded standard of fact-checking and editorial solidarity.
Brittany Bowman is the Managing Editor for The Michigan Daily and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.