Copycat story gets online reporter canned p.8

By: David Noack A financial reporter for who was fired over a stock market investing story that resembled a Wall Street Journal personal-finance column denies it was a case of plagiarism.
"It wasn't an original idea at all. It was a story about how to invest in the market. I heard all of the same information from different analysts, and so I did write a similar story. It's unfortunate that it came out sounding the same. It was not my intent. Everything I wrote I can back up independently," says Leena Ajinkya, who worked at the online financial news site since August 1996.
Ajinkya, 25, admits she was aware of the Journal column on stock market investing but that she developed her own sources on what is a common theme in financial reporting, namely whether and how to make stock investments.
"I do admit it is the same article. But I wanted to tell you that I had my own sources. I think I even probably made a mistake in not attributing my sources more closely," she says.
The chain of events leading to Ajinkya's dismissal started Friday, Jan. 15, when news executives were informed about the possible plagiarism by the Journal.
"I'm sad to report that substantial sections of an article posted earlier today on the Web site contained material that first appeared in The Wall Street Journal last month," wrote Craig Forman, a vice president of CNNfn, where an apology appeared on the Web site.
The article in question ran in the Journal on Dec. 15, 1998, and was penned by Jonathan Clements, who writes a weekly personal-finance column for the paper. The piece, written by Ajinkya, appeared online on Jan. 15.
The similarities between the two articles were brought to the newspaper's attention by a reader, who e-mailed Clements, saying: "I read an article today on CNNfn that I had read before. Sure enough, the article is a complete rehash of your 12/15/98 Getting Going column."
In addition, a second story by Ajinkya, which ran on Nov. 17, 1998, about mutual fund investing also resembles an Oct. 20, 1998, Clements column on the same topic that was also provided to
Richard Tofel, a spokesman for Dow Jones & Co., the parent of the Journal, says: "We thought they acted promptly [and] in our view, appropriately."
Howard Polskin, vice president of public relations for CNN, declined to discuss any details of Ajinkya's dismissal.
"We were alerted to it last Friday (Jan. 15). We responded last Friday and believe we responded quickly and responsibly and that we took the appropriate disciplinary action, but the specifics I'm not going to go into. ? The actions we took, we took some very quick and decisive actions last Friday on the basis of what we learned," says Polskin, who also would not discuss Ajinkya's work history.
?( Editor & Publisher Web Site: http://www.mediainfo. com ) [caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher January 23, 1999) [Caption]


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here