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Magazine Hires Plagiarist; What Happens Next Will Shock You!

November 3, 2020

It’s easy to mock The Atlantic for its really long articles, but it’s even easier when The Atlantic hires a known plagiarist and then seems shocked by the results.

What was the shocking part?

The plagiarist didn’t plagiarize!

Instead, the plagiarist made stuff up.

The short version is that The Atlantic hired a writer who had been caught plagiarizing a few years ago. I’m not bringing this story up to bash the magazine or even to bash the writer. It just demonstrates the unethical tactics writers sometimes use to get themselves published.

The long version is below.


Editor’s Note: After The Atlantic published this article, new information emerged that raised serious concerns about its accuracy, and about the credibility of the author, Ruth Shalit Barrett.

We have decided to retract this article. We cannot attest to the trustworthiness and credibility of the author, and therefore we cannot attest to the veracity of the article.

We draw a distinction between retraction and removal. We believe that scrubbing the article from the internet would not meet our standards for transparency, and we believe it is important to preserve access to the article for the historical record. We have decided to take down the online version but to make available a PDF of the article as it appears in our November 2020 issue.

Read more here at Niche Sports Are No Longer an Ivy League Admissions Plan.


Again, I’m not trying to bash anybody here, but this situation brings up interesting questions. Should The Atlantic have hired a known plagiarist? Should The Atlantic have hidden the plagiarist’s name in the byline? Should The Atlantic have done a better job checking up on the plagiarist’s work?

Should I even refer to the plagiarist as “the plagiarist?


Enough with the questions! What do you think? What is worse, making up details in journalism or plagiarizing? How far would you be willing to go to get your writing published?

  1. Actually, with its online presence, the magazine has been accepting a lot of manuscripts without paying the authors, arguing that they should appreciate the exposure.
    The mag’s been publishing some really great reading, which few of us are paying real cash for.

    • I agree that I’ve read some decent articles without having to pay for them. The writers writing for free might not see it as as ideal, though.

      Hopefully, most of them don’t plagiarize and make stuff up.

      • I could have gone into a long rant about how prevalent plagiarism is in journalism itself, especially the way TV and radio rips off the local newspapers, but will save that for another time.
        We need more watchdogs and whistleblowers!

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