#4 Plagiarism Scandals

The decade was rocked by two major plagiarism scandals involving newspaper sports reporters in Boston.

In February, 2005, the Patriots were in Jacksonville, getting ready for their third Super Bowl of the decade. Ken Powers was covering the team for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, when we learned on the morning of February 2nd, that he had been sent home from covering the team. The Editor & Publisher reported that Powers had been accused of lifting material from a Peter King Sports Illustrated story.

Later that day, with the help of a couple BSMW readers, I posted a side-by-side comparison of what King had written and what Powers had written.

Powers was promptly fired by the paper, after an investigation turned up “at least half a dozen” cases of plagiarism. He responded by telling WBZ-TV – “The termination is a terrible injustice to me.” - even as more cases were being posted here on BSMW.

It ws discovered that Powers had copied Michael Smith of ESPN.com and even his friend Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

BSMW got a mention in The New York Times during that week. Here is also the Associated Press story on the incident.

Since that time, Powers has been working as a reporter for The Community Advocate and Central Mass. Sports Insider.

Two years later, in a Sunday Football Notes column for The Boston Globe, Ron Borges used numerous passages originally written by Mike Sando of The News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington. The passages had been submitted by Sando to a “notes-sharing network” used by sports reporters across the country. Borges did not credit Sando in the notes, but there was a disclaimer at the bottom of the column (which ran most of the time in those Sunday notes columns) that “Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.”

Borges was then suspended for two months from the Globe, and barred from making outside media appearances.

Some have defended Borges, claiming that what he did was not really plagiarism. However, the Globe editor specifically stated in the announcement of Borges suspension that “The Globe does not tolerate plagiarism.”

Here are a couple of link collections about the story from that time period.

Media Reaction on Borges 

Borges Suspension Followups

After serving his two-month suspension, Borges wrote one column, relying on fired Raiders offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, who had been operating a bed-and-breakfast in Idaho prior to taking charge of the Oakland offense, to tells us that Randy Moss was washed up, that his skills were in decline, and Moss was “in denial of those eroding skills.”

Five days later, Borges “retired” from the Globe. He was hired by WEEI.com during the summer of 2008, and then bolted WEEI.com in September for a gig at the Boston Herald, where he remains.

In 2003, Hartford Courant college basketball writer Ken Davis was suspended for a month after he lifted nine paragraphs from a Syracuse sports writer. (Journalist Plagiarism/Fabrication Scandals - also used for background on the Powers and Borges cases.)

These scandals put a black eye on sports coverage, and journalism as a whole, and certainly were among the biggest stories this decade in the Boston sports media.

  • http://twitter.com/PipsBadIdeas/statuses/7005075323 PipsBadIdeas (Pip)

    Twitter Comment


    A coundown of Boston’s biggest sports stories. This one is embarassing. RT @bruceallen: #4 Plagiarism Scandals [link to post]

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  • http://[email protected] billy bob

    these are good posts Bruce. keep the countdown going

  • kevin

    Forgotten all about the Powers story.

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