Saturday, May 07, 2005

Another one bites the dust! hey! hey! [thump! thump! thump!] ---ya know, that Queen song?

USA Today Reporter Resigns Over Plagiarism Charge

AP: (via AOL) WASHINGTON (May 6)--A reporter for USA Today resigned Thursday after an internal investigation found that he used without attribution quotes that had appeared last year in another newspaper, USA Today said.

Tom Squitieri, who worked for USA Today for 16 years, resigned during a meeting with editors who had examined his March 28 story on armored Humvees and compared it with an account from May 7, 2004, in The Indianapolis Star, USA Today editor Kenneth Paulson said.

"Squitieri's actions violated USA Today's standards on sources and attribution," Paulson said in a statement posted on the newspaper's Web site. " USA Today apologizes to its readers. Squitieri has apologized and resigned."

Squitieri's attorney, Joseph Cammarata, said in an interview that Squitieri had not committed plagiarism and had indeed spoken with the people quoted in the story or their representatives. Squitieri received permission from those interviewed to use the same quotations that had appeared in the Star, Cammarata said.

"He does feel he didn't do anything wrong," Cammarata said. "Tom did not do anything wrong, but he recognized that his editors felt that he, Tom, had made a mistake."

Gannett Co. owns both USA Today and the Star.

USA Today's investigation showed other problems with quotations in stories by Squitieri that had not yet been published, Paulson said in an interview.

Squitieri met with editors about the problems on Monday. On Thursday, he offered his resignation almost immediately during a second meeting, Paulson said.

"He asked that we apologize on his behalf to his colleagues at USA Today," Paulson said. "He characterized what he had done as careless mistakes, and he said that even if we had decided we could keep him on that he still would have resigned because he felt that his mistakes undercut our high standards."

The Indianapolis story from a year ago included comments by Sen. Evan Bayh, D- Ind., and a man from Bedford, Mass., whose son was killed in an unarmored Humvee in Iraq. Squitieri's story included their quotes verbatim and without attribution.

USA Today's investigation was conducted by the newspaper's standards editor, a position created in the aftermath of a plagiarism and fabrication scandal involving USA Today reporter Jack Kelley. Kelley left the paper in January 2004, and a review by outside experts found he had plagiarized and invented material dating back to 1991.

Squitieri was Washington bureau chief for the Boston Herald before joining USA Today in 1989.

2005-05-06 04:44 -04

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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