One of Norway’s leading newspapers, Dagens Næringsliv (DN), has concluded that one of its former journalists plagiarized or failed to credit other media in no less than 40 articles during his eight years at the paper. DN’s editorial staff has spent two months investigating the scope of the case, which editor Amund Djuve said forced DN to set a “little envied record” on Friday when it published a long list of corrections and clarifications.
The case broke in late July, when a DN reader recognized some of the content in a lengthy feature story by Daniel Butenschøn, who also sat on the board of a nationwide organization promoting investigative journalism (SKUP). Butenschøn quickly admitted that he had taken much of the content from a five-year-old story in The New Yorker. Over the next few days, DN and various competitors uncovered other examples of plagiarism by Butenschøn. Djuve wrote on Friday that some of it included translations of articles that had appeared in international publications. In other stories, Butenschøn had actually interviewed subjects, also while on assignment for DN abroad, but had used quotes attributed to them in other publications.
Butenschøn had already quit his job at DN when the plagiarism was detected, reportedly to accept a job with the foundation set up by one of the heirs of the Schibsted media conglomerate. It thus remains unclear what recourse DN may have against him. Djuve wrote that Butenschøn had cooperated with the investigation into his work. He has since resigned from the SKUP board and is no longer a candidate for the job at the foundation. The disgraced journalist’s motivations for the massive plagiarism also remain unclear.
Djuve wrote on Friday that the case has been “serious” for DN, which otherwise is one of Norway’s most award-winning publications. It’s little consolation that major newspapers such as the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal have also been duped by journalists who plagiarized stories. “We will continue to establish new routines and methods to hinder anything like this from repeating itself,” wrote Djuve, who also issued another public apology.