"In a number of business articles in The Times over the past year, and in posts on the DealBook blog on NYTimes.com, a Times reporter appears to have improperly appropriated wording and passages published by other news organizations," reports the NY Times in an editor's note today. Although the Times doesn't drop the P-word, that's essentially what reporter Zachery Kouwe is accused of doing. His thieving was brought to the Times's attention by the Wall Street Journal, which noticed that Kouwe repeatedly recycled language just like we did above, but without the all-important quotation marks or attribution, which are really the easiest things in the world to use. For instance, the Paper of Record also reports:

A subsequent search by The Times found other cases of extensive overlap between passages in Mr. Kouwe’s articles and other news organizations’. (The search did not turn up any indications that the articles were inaccurate.)

Copying language directly from other news organizations without providing attribution — even if the facts are independently verified — is a serious violation of Times policy and basic journalistic standards. It should not have occurred. The matter remains under investigation by The Times...

See how easy that is? Of course, Kouwe works for an organization that prizes original reporting and investigative journalism, which really is a lot of work. And it's a drag when you're assigned to cover the never-ending Madoff scandal and have to get into the wonky details of asset freezes, etc., on a deadline. It was this February 6th article about Madoff that first caught the Journal's eye; one sentence is exactly the same as theirs and the Huffington Post has pasted the nearly identical passages side-by-side for your perusal. Both articles appeared on the same day, but parts of the Journal's article first appeared online February 5th, two hours before the Times's web version.

So far this doesn't seem nearly as sensational as the Jayson Blair scandal, with the wholesale fabrication of facts and the cocaine and the burning down of the master's house, but we'll get to the bottom of this (or let you know as soon as somebody else does).