The Chronicle’s View: An apology to our readers

Trust is the most important element in newspaper writing.

Without it, editors would have to scour the gamut of written history to ensure that every piece contained nothing but original content. Sources would be wary to speak with reporters, and readers wouldn’t be able to hold any individual accountable for fallacies or misinterpretations in a story. There would be little reason to read newspapers at all.

We try our best to maintain reader trust at The Daily Utah Chronicle, but all it takes is a single incident to embarrass the reputation of not just our writers, our sections and our paper, but the entire profession that many of us have chosen to pursue.

The actions of former Arts & Entertainment writer Mark Mitchell since his hiring in September-copying or mimicking editorial content from major news outlets such as USA Today, Salon and The Onion-have seriously compromised our consistent, collective effort to provide a legitimate and reliable news source to U students.

We wish to emphasize that his callous plagiarism evoked utter shock and disbelief from the rest of The Chronicle’s staff. In no way does Mitchell’s arrant disregard for honesty and responsibility reflect the attitudes of other writers here, who invest countless hours each week out of concern for the quality of their products.

Many Chronicle staffers are here to bolster career prospects or get examples of their writing published-the thought of wagering our future pursuits on the few dollars writers receive per article is downright baffling.

What is perhaps the most concerning is that Mitchell may have been able to continue his destructive ruse had it not been for the keen eye of reader Steve Coons. After reading Mitchell’s article in yesterday’s paper (“Championship karaoke: Beware the holiday musical horrors awaiting you this, and every, year,” Nov. 29), Coons recognized that a number of phrases were repeated word-for-word from an article by Amelie Gillette published on The Onion’s A.V. Club two days prior (“The Christmas-time horrors that await you,” Nov. 27).

Only after Coons’ tip was The Chronicle’s staff able to discern that this was not an isolated incident and take the appropriate measures before a bad situation was made even worse.

The Chronicle would like to extend a sincere apology to readers and the outlets from which Mitchell stole content. These circumstances are extremely rare, and readers should certainly not expect a repeat. We will continue to strive for a professional product, and the elimination of plagiarism will remain our top priority.