Reporter Covering Super Bowl Hit with Plagiarism Charge

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By: Joe Strupp

The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette summoned home its New England Patriots beat writer from the pre-Super Bowl festivities in Jacksonville after learning that he may have plagiarized a column from an article previously posted on the Sports Illustrated Web site.

?We are investigating a column he wrote for the Sunday, Jan. 30 paper,? Telegram & Gazette Editor Harry Whitin said Tuesday night. ?The concern was that the column bore a striking similarity to a column published on the Web.?

In a correction published Wednesday, the paper stated, “Substantial portions of a column originally written by Peter King and published Jan. 24 on the Sports Illustrated Web site were printed Jan. 30 in the Sunday Telegram under the byline of Ken Powers, a staff member of the Telegram & Gazette. The Telegram & Gazette takes plagiarism seriously and is conducting a full investigation. We apologize to our readers and to Sports Illustrated.”

Powers, a 20-year Telegram & Gazette staffer who has covered the Patriots for five years, had gone to Jacksonville over the weekend to cover preparations for the Patriots championship game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 6, Whitin told E&P Tuesday.

The paper received a tip on Monday from a reader indicating that Powers? Sunday column might have included elements of a Peter King column posted on the SI.com Web site on Jan. 24. Within hours, Powers was on a plane back to Massachusetts and the paper began an investigation into the charges. The column was then removed from the paper?s Web site.

?The minute we were aware of the nature of the problem, we called him back,? Whitin said. ?We then put another reporter on the plane to Jacksonville and have two reporters down there now.? Whitin added that ?substantial elements? of the King column were believed to have been lifted, but would not be more specific.

Powers, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, has been placed on paid leave until the investigation is completed, Whitin said. ?I can?t put a time frame on the investigation, but it will be completed quickly,? the editor noted. ?I would be surprised if it took days. I think it will be quicker than that.?

The editor said Powers had never had an ethics problem in the past, saying ?he has a spotless record.? Powers, who once weighed nearly 400 pounds, gained notice in 2001 for losing weight following gastric bypass surgery and writing several columns about it.

The newspaper is owned by The New York Times Co.

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