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NPR Acknowledges Plagiarism In 10 Music Stories

Stories about classical music that appeared on NPR's website have been found to include portions of others' work, according to a joint statement by NPR and member station WQXR, where the writer of those reports was based. The 10 articles were submitted over a period of several years.

The stories were written by Brian Wise, who had been the online editor at member station in New York City before resigning his post this week. On NPR Music and WQXR pages that contained plagiarized material, an editor's note has now replaced the text and the articles in question have been moved to a single page.

A classical music station, WQXR is part of New York Public Radio, which also operates WNYC and other outlets.

"NPR's policy is clear: plagiarism is unacceptable," says a statement from Mike Oreskes, NPR's senior vice president for news, and Graham Parker, the general manager of WQXR. "Likewise, New York Public Radio's policy is indisputable: 'Plagiarism is an unforgivable offense. NYPR staff members do not take other people's work and present it as our own.' "

Update at 12:25 p.m. ET: Wise Apologizes

Writing on the Medium website, Wise has responded to the findings of NPR and WQXR:

"NPR and WQXR have identified some sentences and phrases in my work that were similar to those used in other media outlets. They are right. These unintentional lapses are entirely my fault. I did not live up to my high standards or those of NPR and WQXR. I sincerely apologize for this."

Our original post continues:

The stories in question were found to contain descriptions, phrases and sentences that duplicate or closely resemble work that was previously published elsewhere. An copy editor uncovered the connections last week while working on one of Wise's stories.

"After discovering that some key phrases in the piece had previously appeared elsewhere, the editor alerted newsroom management at NPR and WQXR," Oreskes and Parker write. "A review was then begun of the other 40 pieces Mr. Wise had written jointly for and WQXR since 2008. That review turned up the other instances between April 2011 and the unpublished piece in October 2015."

The editor's note concludes, "We apologize to our audiences and to those who had their work copied without credit."

The articles have been gathered on a single page at NPR's website, and in an attempt to provide accountability and transparency about what happened, the material will not be deleted. The new Web page highlights portions that were found to have evidence of plagiarism, along with links to reports that Wise's stories either duplicated or closely echoed.

For example, in reporting on composer John Adams' "The Wound-Dresser" in 2011, Wise wrote that the music's inspiration, a Walt Whitman poem, "describes the poet's personal horror treating wounded soldiers just off the battlefield during the Civil War."

Earlier that week, The Oregonian'sDavid Stabler had written this about the same piece of music: "Walt Whitman's poem describes the poet's personal horror treating wounded soldiers just off the battlefield during the Civil War."

At WQXR, Wise's tasks have ranged from managing the home page to producing a concert series and a podcast. According to his bio on WQXR's website, Wise has written for a number of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC Music Magazineand Gramophone.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.