ESPN Entertainment Writer Has A Bad Wikipedia Habit

We've introduced you to ESPN's Lynn Hoppes a time or two. He's now an entertainment writer (and Cupcake Wars correspondent) for ESPN.com, but he used to edit the website's Page 2—where he wrote about pizza, covered the Jonas Brothers, and hired Sarah Phillips—before it rebranded itself as Playbook. To his ever-growing rap sheet, let us now add this: Hoppes is, shall we say, over-reliant on Wikipedia as a research tool. Whether it's verbatim cut-and-paste jobs or ethically ambiguous paraphrasing, most of Hoppes's tidbits—and tidbits are the primary medium in which Hoppes works—are pulled uncredited from his subject's Wikipedia page. What follows are the most glaring examples of this practice dating back to May 1.

Here's Hoppes on Mike Tyson:

Tyson, 46, is a former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles at 20 years, 4 months and 22 days old.

Wikipedia's Mike Tyson entry:

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Tyson is a former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles at 20 years, 4 months and 22 days old.

Hoppes on the theatrical version of The Odd Couple:

It premiered on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre on March 10, 1965, and transferred to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, where it closed on July 2, 1967, after 966 performances.

Wikipedia on The Odd Couple:

The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre on March 10, 1965 and transferred to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre where it closed on July 2, 1967 after 966 performances and two previews.

Hoppes on Damn Yankees:

Damn Yankees ran for 1,019 performances in its original 1955 Broadway production.

Wikipedia on Damn Yankees:

Damn Yankees ran for 1,019 performances in its original 1955 Broadway production.

Hoppes on the play Take Me Out:

It premiered off-Broadway on September 5, 2002, at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, and made Its Broadway debut on February 27, 2003, at the Walter Kerr Theatre, where it ran 355 performances.

Wikipedia on the play Take Me Out:

It premiered off-Broadway on September 5, 2002, at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, and made Its Broadway debut on February 27, 2003, at the Walter Kerr Theatre, where it ran 355 performances.

Those last three excerpts are all from the same ESPN Playbook post, though the words are obviously culled from three separate Wikipedia articles. Two notable things about the final pair: matching typos ("Its" is capitalized in each) and some suspect identical syntax. Hoppes and Wikipedia alike say the play "ran 355 performances," despite Hoppes having written earlier in the same post that Damn Yankees "ran for 1,019 performances" (emphasis mine).

Hoppes on Christian Hosoi:

In 1995, Hosoi was arrested on two minor offenses, and a warrant for his arrest was issued for failing to appear in court. To avoid arrest, Hosoi stopped attending competitions and demos.

Wikipedia on Christian Hosoi:

In 1995, Hosoi was arrested on two minor offenses, and a warrant for his arrest was issued for failing to appear in court. To avoid arrest, Hosoi stopped attending competitions and demos.

Hoppes on Matthew Perry:

His mother, Suzanne Jane Louise Morrison, is the former press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his father, John Bennett Perry, is an actor and former model.

Wikipedia on Matthew Perry:

His mother, Suzanne Jane Louise Morrison (née Langford), is a Canadian journalist and former press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his father, John Bennett Perry, is an American actor and former model.

Hoppes on Lindsay Lohan:

She began her career as a child fashion model before making her movie debut in Walt Disney's 1998 remake of "The Parent Trap" at the age of 11. That led to starring roles in "Freaky Friday," "Mean Girls" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded."

Wikipedia on Lindsay Lohan:

She began her career as a child fashion model before making her motion picture debut in Walt Disney's 1998 remake of The Parent Trap at the age of 11. Lohan gained further fame with leading roles in the films Freaky Friday (2003), Mean Girls (2004), and Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005).

Hoppes on Juno:

The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and earned three other Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress for star Ellen Page.

Wikipedia on Juno:

The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and earned three other Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Page.

Hoppes on Gary Bettman:

Bettman's controversial decisions and presiding over two labor stoppages have made him unpopular in various arenas. He is regularly booed by NHL fans. "You're always going to have critics," Bettman told Maxim magazine in 2008. "What I've always told people: If I take the ice and it's completely silent, then I'll know I'm in trouble."

Wikipedia on Gary Bettman:

Bettman's controversial decisions, as well as presiding over two labor stoppages, have made him unpopular among many NHL fans. He is regularly booed in various arenas around the league […] When asked if the booing ever bothers him, Bettman said, "Not doing this job, no. You're always going to have critics. What I've always told people: If I take the ice and it's completely silent, then I'll know I'm in trouble."

Hoppes on Antonio Gates:

Gates, 6 foot 4 and 260 pounds, originally enrolled at Michigan State University wanting to play football under then-coach Nick Saban as well as basketball under coach Tom Izzo. But Saban wanted Gates to play only football.

Wikipedia on Antonio Gates:

Originally, Gates enrolled at Michigan State University wanting to play football under then-coach Nick Saban as well as basketball under coach Tom Izzo but upon enrolling Saban wanted him to play only football.

Hoppes on Steve Cauthen:

In 1978, Cauthen became the youngest jockey to ever win the U. S. Triple Crown, riding Affirmed. [...] After fiinishing [sic] his riding career with 2,794 victories, Cauthen returned from Europe to the state of Kentucky, where he is an executive at Turfway Park, the nearest major track to his hometown of Covington.

Wikipedia on Steve Cauthen:

In 1978 he became the youngest jockey to ever win the U. S. Triple Crown, riding Affirmed. [...] After he finished his riding career, he returned to Kentucky, where he is an executive at Turfway Park, the nearest major track to his hometown.

Oh, the state of Kentucky! Thanks for clearing that up—I thought Wikipedia was talking about the orbiting space station "Kentucky". The other two details Hoppes adds (Cauthen's hometown and career victories) are available in a sidebar in his Wikipedia entry. You don't even have to scroll down.

Hoppes on Willis Reed:

Reed, 70, spent his entire pro playing career (1964–1974) with the New York Knicks [...] After retiring as a player, Reed served as assistant and head coach with several NBA teams for nearly a decade. As Senior Vice President of Basketball for the New Jersey Nets, he led them to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

Wikipedia on Willis Reed:

He spent his entire professional playing career (1964–1974) with the New York Knicks. [...] After retiring as a player, Reed served as assistant and head coach with several teams for nearly a decade, then was promoted to General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations (1989 to 1996) for the New Jersey Nets. As Senior Vice President of Basketball, he led them to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

Another pair of matching typos on that one: Reed was not the "Senior Vice President of Basketball." He was the "senior vice president of basketball operations."

Hoppes on All the Right Moves:

Stef Djordjevic (Cruise) is a high school football player seeking a college scholarship to escape his small, economically depressed town in Pennsylvania.

Wikipedia on All the Right Moves:

Stefen "Stef" Djordjevic (Tom Cruise) is a high school defensive back seeking a college football scholarship to escape the economically depressed small Pennsylvania town of Ampipe.

In fairness, "small, economically depressed" is a little smoother than "economically depressed small."

The above selections represent the more obvious instances of Hoppes lifting from Wikipedia in the period we looked at. Over the same duration, though, Hoppes has also employed a second, slightly subtler methodology. He copies from Wikipedia, then excises a few details here and there so the copy is punchier and less informative. Here's Hoppes on Pam Anderson:

Anderson moved to Vancouver after high school and worked as a fitness instructor. In 1989, Anderson went with her friends to a British Columbia Lions game, and she was shown on the stadium screen wearing a Labatt's T-shirt. The 21-year-old was taken down to the field to receive an ovation from the crowd. Her photographer boyfriend Dan Ilicic produced the Blue Zone Girl poster. And Playboy came calling.

Wikipedia on Pam Anderson:

After graduating from Highland Secondary School in 1985, Anderson moved to Vancouver and worked as a fitness instructor. During the summer of 1989, Anderson went with her friends to a BC Lions game at BC Place, and during the game she was shown on the stadium screen wearing a Labatt's t-shirt, causing the crowd to cheer for the 21-year-old Anderson. She was taken down to the field to receive an ovation from the crowd. Her photographer boyfriend Dan Ilicic produced the Blue Zone Girl poster on his own. In October 1989 she appeared as the cover girl on Playboy magazine.

The two excerpts are more or less the same, but with Hoppes, we don't know where she went to high school, what season it was in 1989 when she went to a BC Lions game, whether her boyfriend produced the poster on his own, or when Playboy came calling. I guess if you want those details, you could just check Wikipedia.

Hoppes on Tom Chambers provides another example of this sort of paraphrase:

In 1999, the 4-time All-Star Chambers was inducted into the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor. As part of the ceremony, Chambers received a bronze statue of his dunk over Mark Jackson.

Wikipedia on Tom Chambers:

In April 1999, Chambers was inducted into the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor, and became the first inductee since the Ring of Honor was installed at the then-America West Arena (now U.S. Airways Center). As part of the induction ceremony, he received a bronze statue by artist Sam Wickey recreating his 1989 dunk over the New York Knicks guard Mark Jackson.

Again, Wikipedia has more pointless detail, but otherwise the two excerpts are strikingly similar. Hoppes's birthday salutations to LaDainian Tomlinson use this method, but here the alteration is less benign. Wikipedia:

The San Diego Chargers chose him with the fifth overall pick in the2001 NFL Draft, and he spent nine seasons with the Chargers before moving to the New York Jets as a free agent. He played with the Jets for two seasons before retiring after the 2011 season.

While Hoppes goes with,

The 33-year-old Tomlinson was drafted by the Chargers fifth overall in the 2001 NFL Draft and spent nine seasons with that team before moving to the New York Jets as a free agent. The 5-time Pro Bowler spent two seasons with the Jets before returning to the Chargers last week.

And retiring. Tomlinson's return to the Chargers was entirely symbolic—he wanted to retire a Charger. When Hoppes isn't flat-out copying and pasting Wikipedia, he probably should be.

Here's the entirety of Hoppes's July 4 article, "Happy birthday, United States of America":

Today is Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July — when the United States declared independence from Great Britain.

Some interesting facts about the holiday:

• John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence to serve as Presidents, died on the same day: July 4, 1826.

• Speaking of presidents, James Monroe — president No. 5 — also died on July 4, 1831.

• And Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872.

A paragraph from the Wikipedia entry titled "Independence Day (United States)":

In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as Presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third President who died on this memorable day. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, 1872, and, so far, is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.

Yep, remarkable coincidences all around.