Newspaper El Colombiano acknowledges plagiarism case after being denounced on social networks and in other media

In an editorial published on Jan. 21, the newspaper El Colombiano, one of the most important and traditional publications in the country, acknowledged a case of plagiarism by the international editor, Diana Carolina Jiménez, and said that after reviewing the case, the journalist is not longer part of the team.

The situation has attracted more controversy after news that El Colombiano, based in Medellín, allegedly was forced to publicly acknowledge the case only after Pulzo.com website published about it and some social network users pressured the outlet for an explanation, according Pulzo.com.

People within the newspaper knew about the incident a week before publication of the editorial, “The duty of honesty,” on Jan. 21, according to the same editorial. According to El Colombiano, the ombudsman of the newspaper received a notice from a reader in which she pointed out that an article published by El Colombiano on Jan. 5 with Jiménez’s byline was a "literal translation 'that reproduces almost entirely’'' an article from The New York Times.

According to El Colombiano, after reviewing the situation and talking to Jiménez, the editorial board of the newspaper "considered that the journalist violated not only the norms of our Manual of Style, but basic principles of journalistic ethics, and therefore should immediately leave the company."

Jiménez presented her resignation which was accepted immediately, the editorial said. The paper also reported that all published material written by Jiménez is being reviewed.

"Not only before this reader, but to all our audiences, we recognize the seriousness of the case. We are confident in our editors, in their commitment to quality and ethical practice of the trade. Those who work at EL COLOMBIANO know that we value their professional expertise, but before that we count on their ethical values. We deeply regret this case, which occurred despite having established controls in the Content Unit for the final publication of journalistic work,” the editorial said.

However, in the opinion piece "'The (very) Colombian' style of dealing with plagiarism", Guillermo Franco, director of Pulzo.com, points to the fact that the case was not revealed immediately, and he also criticized that El Colombiano allegedly decided to take down not only the article in question but also Jiménez’s other content. “Another mistake that is added to the lack of transparency," Franco said.

Pulzo.com, which defines itself as a media curator and content aggregator, is in the midst of a legal process with some Colombian newspapers, including El Colombiano, for what the newspapers consider the misuse of content.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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