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Another rising star of the journalistic community fell unexpectedly today as a veteran Weekly World News reporter admitted to plagiarism and fabricating stories.
Parker Elsworth, previously lauded in the journalistic community as a hard-hitting investigative reporter for his exposé on computers that take and upload pictures of nude co-eds, resigned from the newspaper last week after the National Enquirer accused him of plagiarism.
"I opened up the [Weekly World News] to read their stunning revelations about Saddam Hussein's involvement in the lost dead sea scrolls, only to find one of my old articles under [Elsworth's] name," said Enquirer staff reporter Leona Abraham. "I didn't spend six months researching midget prostitution to have my work plundered by some freelance halfwit."
I didn't spend six months researching midget prostitution to have my work plundered by some freelance halfwit.
A later investigation of Elsworth's work revealed that several of his articles had no factual basis whatsoever. Managing Editor Brian Lunzer now doubts the credibility of most of Elsworth's reports, including a series on a time-traveling investor accused of insider trading.
"We were shocked and outraged when we first read [Elsworth's] article about the visitor from 2256," Lunzer said. "Now it seems a little too convenient that the suspect disappeared without a trace and his arresting officers, lawyers, and state Senator all moved to Tahiti and declined comment."
Elsworth would later admit to plagiarizing dozens of articles and fabricating hundreds more.
"I buckled under the pressure, Elsworth admitted in a press conference Monday. "When you're working for a prestige paper like Weekly World News, you feel compelled to produce fresh material at lightning speeds."
Weekly World News is second in a wave of media shake-ups. Rival publication New York Times also recently let go of two reporters and two editors after a plagiarism debacle.
"Papers like the New York Times can get away with that stuff from time to time because they're just a blip on the radar," said Elsworth. "I shattered the reputation of a world-renowned supermarket publication."
While newsstand sales show no signs of slumping, the revelation has not gone unnoticed by the newspaper's readers.
"I just don't know if I can trust them or their many apocalyptic prophesies anymore," said Sharon McNeil, a stay-at-home mother of four and Weekly World News subscriber. "We've had this bomb shelter dug out at home for three months now and the space invaders from Pluto still haven't made their move on our freedom-loving soil."
Industry analysts believe that Weekly World News will recover from the scandal, but everyone agrees that Parker Elsworth's career in journalism has ended. According to the disgraced journalist, that's just fine.
"This business just pushes you to the edge and thrusts you over," said Elsworth. "I'm sick of being a tool for the media."
"Editors don't care about the Mantis Man and Bat Boy articles you turned in last week," Elsworth continued. "In this business, you're only as valuable as your next report on devil-worshipping clone babies."