Tribune reporter fired for plagiarizing Chronicle

Salt Lake Tribune management fired higher-education reporter Shinika Sykes on Monday for plagiarizing numerous paragraphs from a recent The Daily Utah Chronicle news story.

The Chronicle’s article, “ASUU overspends by $66,000: $170,000 reserve drained for spring concert; music festivals new require entry free,” was published on Aug. 23; Sykes’ article, “Student leaders overspent on big U. concerts: Festival: The campus group tapped reserve fund for $66,000, but it is not in the red,” was published in The Tribune the next day, Aug, 24.

Forty-two out of 155 lines were copied from Chronicle writer Dustin Gardiner’s version to Sykes’; the copied content including direct quotes, regardless of whether she personally interviewed each source in the story.

After an investigation, Tribune management determined that plagiarism occurred and terminated Sykes.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism,” said Nancy Conway, editor of The Salt Lake Tribune

Pete Nagy, copy editor for The Chronicle, noticed the similarities first and informed Danyelle White, Chronicle editor in chief. After investigating the incident, she turned the allegations over to The Tribune.

“I was surprised after doing a side-by-side comparison how much of her article was taken from ours, and it saddens me because we look up to The Tribune as our mentors and what we aspire to be professionally,” White said.

The article explained how the student government overspent on last spring’s Grand Kerfuffle by $66,000.

“Generally, I feel good when the Tribune picks up one of my stories,” Gardiner said. “I wasn’t horribly offended by it or anything, but I was a little surprised when I opened The Tribune to see parts of my article used.”

The Tribune provides The Chronicle with mentors who visit often to teach staff members and offer advice. Conway said the incident will not affect the relationship between the two papers.

“I’m appreciative of The Tribune management for handling this in a timely and professional manner and taking our concerns seriously,” White said.

The Tribune hired Sykes in the early ’90s. She first worked as a copy editor and reader advocate before covering education as a news reporter. Sykes studied for a master’s in communication at the U.

“I just think one reporter made an unfortunate mistake,” Gardiner said.

Sykes was unavailable for comment.