Opinion & Editorial

Plagiarism found in former Chronicle reporter’s work

Dear readers,

The Chronicle last week uncovered several instances of plagiarism by Ryleigh Norgrove, a news reporter for this publication from March 2022 through May 2023. 

After an initial audit of more than a dozen titles authored by Norgrove, at least seven pieces contained material, without attribution, that was first published by other authors in other publications. 

A deeper audit is ongoing involving all of Norgrove’s stories published in the newspaper during her tenure with The Chronicle.

“We are professionally devastated by this deep violation of trust,” publisher Noel Nash and executive editor Erin Tierney-Heggenstaller wrote in a joint statement. “The Chronicle is committed to journalistic ethics, transparency, and trust with its readers and community. We will continue to build on that commitment in serving the southern Willamette Valley.”

The Chronicle was first alerted to the potential of plagiarized material in one of Norgrove’s columns by a reader for Masters Review, a Bend-based online and print literature platform for which Norgrove recently submitted a piece. 

In the publishing world, a “reader” is the first person to read a manuscript when it is submitted to a publishing house. They are responsible for assessing the submission’s merit before it being either rejected or sent along to a literary agent.

A Masters Review reader first contacted The Chronicle on March 13 to report that they found plagiarized work from Norgrove on several platforms, including on Chronicle1909.com. 

The first discovered work of plagiarism on our site was a column written about Norgrove’s great-grandmother’s descent into dementia published in April 2023 entitled, “Where disease stopped, and she began: a family facing dementia.” Multiple phrases and paragraphs were similar or exact in comparison to a 2017 article on GuernicaMag.com by Maria Browning entitled, “Doll in Shadow.”

Upon researching the allegation, we confirmed the material was plagiarized, and have since found several other instances of plagiarism, some of which include: 

Play review: Cottage Theatre’s “Mamma Mia,” April 7, 2022 

Column: “Chasing comet a celestial delight,” July 21, 2022

Play review: Cottage Theatre’s “Into The Woods,” Oct. 20, 2022

Column: “Thanksgiving dinner with the family? Tips from a crisis expert,” Nov. 17, 2022

Column: “Sunshine Week: Let the sun shine in,” March 16, 2023

Again, other authors’ work previously published elsewhere was used in similar or exact ways – these publications included New York Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Review, The Denver Post, The Atlantic, The Monroe News, Brit + Co, Media News Group, and Columbus Monthly, among others. Norgrove was also found to have committed at least two other examples of plagiarism in work published before she came to this publication

Ryleigh Norgrove

The Chronicle contacted Norgrove on March 18 to discuss our findings; she admitted to the acts of plagiarism. 

The paper’s leadership team is in the process of reaching out to every author and every publication who have been violated.

“As a hyper-local paper, with unique reporting you can’t find anywhere else about our specific communities, I never considered plagiarism to even be a possibility in our publication,” Tierney-Heggenstaller said. “Hyper local is our North Star. Unique-and-differentiating content you can’t find anywhere else. Our intention is clear and true in our Mission Statement. I understand and empathize how duped you may feel as a reader and subscriber to The Chronicle. We are putting mechanisms in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

Already, we have implemented new procedures and purchased anti-plagiarism software to help identify plagiarized material during the editing process. 

Norgrove graduated from Willamette University in Salem in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in English and Politics. Before coming to The Chronicle as an entry-level reporter, she worked in former Gov. Kate Brown’s office as a Communications Fellow, authoring stories on My Oregon News, a state-ran news site.

Norgrove left The Chronicle after her acceptance into one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the country – New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Both Nash and Tierney-Heggenstaller had written letters of recommendation for Norgrove’s character and professionalism as part of her grad-school application to NYU. 

“We understood our obligation to alert the leaders of the program with our findings. Ethical and moral codes dictated our response,” Nash said. 

The university was notified of our findings on March 18. University officials, including Charles Seife, professor and director of the journalism institute, said student privacy laws prevented them from commenting.

Readers are encouraged to reach out to Tierney-Heggenstaller and Nash with any questions, comments, or concerns regarding these issues, or other potential offenses that might not yet be discovered. 

“There are always unforeseen challenges you deal with in any business,” Nash said. “This particular instance – all the more alarming in the age of artificial intelligence and computer-written content – reminds us to remain vigilant in providing truthful and accurate information. The Chronicle will not waver in that regard.”

Noel Nash is the owner and publisher of The Chronicle, and Erin Tierney-Heggenstaller is the executive editor. You may reach them at 541-515-6233 or by email at  [email protected]  and [email protected].  



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