back to top

Editor's Note: An Apology To Our Readers

What we're doing about an episode of plagiarism.

Posted on

Starting this Wednesday, Twitter users began pointing out instances in which a BuzzFeed writer, Benny Johnson, had lifted phrases and sentences from other websites.

After carefully reviewing more than 500 of Benny's posts, we have found 41 instances of sentences or phrases copied word for word from other sites. Benny is a friend, colleague, and, at his best, a creative force, but we had no choice other than letting him go.

We owe you, our readers, an apology. This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you — in this case, about who wrote the words on our site. Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or other sources, is an act of disrespect to the reader. We are deeply embarrassed and sorry to have misled you. Benny's editors — I, Katherine Miller, John Stanton, Shani Hilton, and McKay Coppins — bear real responsibility.

We have corrected the instances of plagiarism, and added an editor's note to each. We have also included links to each at the bottom of this note. We will work hard to be more vigilant in the future, and to earn your trust.

BuzzFeed started seven years ago as a laboratory for content. Our writers didn't have journalistic backgrounds and weren't held to traditional journalistic standards, because we weren't doing journalism. But that started changing a long time ago.

Today, we are one of the largest news and entertainment sites on the web. On the journalistic side, we have scores of aggressive reporters around the United States and the world, holding the people we cover to high standards. We must — and we will — hold ourselves to the same high standards. Similarly, the people who produce our immensely popular entertainment have raised their game dramatically, focusing on creative and ambitious work, and increasingly careful attribution. We have more responsibility now than ever to get it right, to keep raising our standards, and to continue getting better.

Update: Here are links to the 41 posts in which we found plagiarism and attribution issues.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/miracle-babies-to-warm-your-heart-today

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/hooray-for-washington

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/things-democrats-would-have-freaked-out-about-if-bush-had-do

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-most-romantic-story-in-congress

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-15-most-absurd-ways-the-pentagon-is-spending-money

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/15-things-to-avoid-if-you-do-not-want-to-eat-horse-meat#

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/things-that-are-definitely-bigger-in-texas

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-biggest-slap-fest-dc-has-ever-seen

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/technically-any-catholic-man-can-be-the-next-pope

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-17-best-swag-presents-obama-has-received-from-foreign-le

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/this-is-how-the-internet-responded-to-a-13-hour-rand-paul-fi

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/masterfully-creative-resumes

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-most-exclusive-hotel-room-in-the-world-inside-disneys-ca

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/pope-washes-and-kisses-the-feet-of-prisoners-women-and-musli

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/part-of-our-world-this-real-life-professional-mermaid-will-b

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/how-8-other-massive-manhunts-ended

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/7-cities-that-defy-terrorism

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/what-would-your-life-be-like-if-you-were-born-in-north-korea

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/how-the-administration-is-having-the-worst-week-ever

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-literal-army-it-takes-to-get-the-president-to-africa

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/fdr-had-the-greatest-childhood-ever

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/10-reasons-america-is-still-number-one

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-story-of-egypts-revolution-in-jurassic-park-gifs

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/very-badass-things-you-should-not-forget-about-harry-reid

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/dcs-version-of-the-royal-baby-is-a-gigantic-flower-that-smel

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/despicable-things-this-san-diego-mayor-allegedly-did-to-wome

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-17-most-canadian-things-about-ted-cruz

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/photos-from-the-world-pipe-band-championships-will-instantly

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/quiz-who-keeps-working-during-a-government-shutdown

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/11-pieces-of-jesse-jackson-jr-swag-being-auctioned-off-by-th

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-11-countries-congress-has-declared-war-on-and-why

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/obamacare-failures-as-told-by-dr-house

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-senate-conservatives-fund-is-not-living-very-conservativ

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/america-is-pretty-helpless-in-space-without-the-russians

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/inside-fort-hood-the-site-of-tragedy-and-everyday-american-l

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/how-well-do-you-know-basic-us-military-history

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/how-well-do-you-know-basic-us-politics

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/the-2014-running-of-the-interns

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/25-amazing-official-white-house-petitions

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/23-delightful-inauguration-firsts

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/when-the-west-romanced-assad