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Star Tribune movie critic resigns after accusation of plagiarism

Colin Covert had been with the newspaper for more than 30 years.

The Star Tribune has announced that its movie critic, Colin Covert, has left the newspaper after more than 30 years after some of his reviews were found to have copied the work of others.

Editor Rene Sanchez and managing editor Suki Dardarian said in a letter posted on the Star Tribune website Monday evening that they had found several examples of Covert's work using the same language as writers for other outlets, without attribution.

They were initially informed of the possible plagiarism by a reader, who noticed Covert had incorporated a "unique phrase" used by the late New Yorker critic Pauline Kael into a 2009 review he wrote of the movie "Nine."

This phrase – "self-glorifying masochistic mush" – had been used by Kael in a 1974 review of a UK version of "The Little Prince."

Covert's "Nine" review also included several more phrases that Kael had used, while further examination of his work led to the newspaper finding eight more reviews that contained phrases previously used in the New York Times, Paste Magazine, Vulture.com, The Wall Street Journal, IndieWire, and Hollywood Reporter.

The most recent of these apparent plagiarisms appeared in a Nov. 1 review of "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" 

The Star Tribune says it is removing all of Covert's work from its website, and will also be informing the wire services and syndicates that have been using his reviews.

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"In his long career at the Star Tribune, Covert has made many contributions to our cultural coverage," Sanchez and Dardarian wrote. "But this pattern of using distinct phrasing from other authors without attribution is a form of plagiarism and is a violation of our journalistic standards and ethics and those of our industry."

In the editors' statement, Covert admitted to his "blunders" and thanked the newspaper for affording him a career that "through its benefits safeguarded me through three serious health crises."

"I’m sorry to say that through too many mistakes over the last 30 years I have compromised the Star Tribune’s meticulous reputation for integrity," he added.

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