DITonline, webzine of the Durban Institute of Technology, has uncovered what it claims is extensive plagiarism by a journalist on Durban-based Daily News.

In a report published on 27 August, DITonline editor Reesha Chibba accused reporter Keeran Sewsunker of copying text directly from several local newspapers, press releases and news websites, including US-based Entrepreneur.com.

Ms Chibba lists examples of passages from other publications that had appeared under Mr Sewsunker's byline in the Daily News, including a story about jazz musician Sipho Gumede which, she claims, was mostly copied from music site Sheer.co.za.

The pressure of deadlines and the quantity of content available online make plagiarism even more tempting, said Ms Chibba.

"I believe that anyone who plagiarises does so when they are fresh out of new ideas and being downright lazy," she told dotJournalism.

"The reason I decided to expose Keeran was not a vindictive one. When I found out that he was plagiarising all the respect I had for him sank like a ton of bricks in water."

The issue has been complicated by claims that Ms Chibba and Mr Sewsunker were romantically involved, although Ms Chibba denies this.

"He was a friend that I admired. I think he's very angry, seething actually - especially since I've betrayed him as a friend," she said.

In an interview with South African newspaper the Sunday Times on 5 September, Daily News editor Dennis Pather defended Mr Sewsunker's work. Many of the examples described in the DITonline report referred to a column that, he said, was intended to be a compilation of business news.

"Where the reporter erred was in failing to fully acknowledge the source of his material in some instances," said Mr Pather.

Deon Delport, managing editor of the Daily News, would not comment on whether Mr Sewsunker would be changing the format of his column.

"The editorial management of the Daily News has emphasised to our reporters the importance of identifying the sources of articles and this has been stressed on several occasions," he told dotJournalism.

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See also:
DITonline report: http://olcweb.dit.ac.za/ditonline/html/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=739
Sunday Times coverage: http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/2004/09/05/news/durban/ndbn03.asp
Daily News: http://www.dailynews.co.za
Entrepreneur.com : http://www.entrepreneur.com

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