Georgia Reporter Fired for Plagiarism
AP, Atl. Journal-Constitution, Mar. 7
MACON, Ga. — A reporter for The Macon Telegraph was fired after editors discovered that an article he wrote contained passages plagiarized from The San Diego Union-Tribune, and he later admitted lifting material from other news organizations.
An investigation has found at least 20 stories by Khalil Abdullah that contained passages and quotes lifted from other news sources, including the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, The Washington Post, The (Baltimore) Sun, The New York Times and The Associated Press, the Macon newspaper reported Sunday.
The issue came to the newspaper’s attention when a Union-Tribune editor called to point out similarities between Abdullah’s Oct. 23 story about declining enrollment in high school automotive technology classes and one that ran in the San Diego newspaper on July 14, said Telegraph Executive Editor Sherrie Marshall.
Abdullah, who covered education for the newspaper, was fired after meeting with editors Friday.
Telegraph editors were aware that before coming to Macon in September 2002, Abdullah had left the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram after being accused of copying material, but had decided to offer him another opportunity, Marshall said.
“We talked about the mistakes, but we also saw the talent, the potential and the promise and decided to give him a second chance,” she said.
After being fired, Abdullah admitted copying material from other newspapers.
“I’m going to have to live with the fact that a lot of people trusted me, and a lot of people respected me, and I let them down,” Abdullah told the Telegraph on Saturday.
Marshall said she was calling editors of newspapers that were the source of material used by Abdullah to apologize. “I’m heartsick about what’s happened — for my staff and for the readers,” she said.
Abdullah also resigned as president of The Middle Georgia Association of Black Journalists. In a statement Saturday, the group said it is “dedicated to the highest ethical standards of journalism and stands ready to heal this breach in readers’ confidence caused by Abdullah’s actions.”