David Pratt used phrases almost identical to those in a September 2000 Sports Illustrated article in his Tuesday column in the Vancouver Province. ((CBC))

A Vancouver newspaper has fired one of its sports columnists after he admitted that he copied parts of a Sports Illustrated article and used them in his own piece.

The decision came after David Pratt admitted he plagiarized material from a Sept. 12, 2000, article written by Rick Reilly, a basketball commentator, the Province announced Wednesday.

Pratt, a long-time sports journalist, wrote about Canadian Hockey broadcaster Bob Cole in his column on Tuesday.

A reader contacted the newspaper after noticing three separate spots where phrases used in Pratt's piece were almost identical to Reilly's column.


The Province's editor-in-chief, Wayne Moriarty, said the newspaper regards plagiarism as one of the most egregious of sins a journalist can commit. ((CBC))

"Within ethical standards of the newspaper, plagiarism, short of fabricating information, would be considered the most egregious of sins or transgressions a journalist can commit," said Wayne Moriarty, editor-in-chief of the Province.

Moriarty said Pratt's column has been cancelled.

Pratt told CBC News on Wednesday that he made a mistake and has apologized repeatedly in the last 24 hours.

He describes the plagiarism as a "minor gaffe," saying he saw the Reilly column and thought "that's a pretty good line."

"It was a Saturday and I wanted to get out of [the office] before noon," he said over the phone.

A journalism ethics professor said he agrees with the Province's decision to fire Pratt.

"We need to send a signal out to everyone, every journalist and the public that we are serious about the standards of journalism." said Stephen Ward of the University of British Columbia School of Journalism.

Pratt will continue to host his show on Team 1040, a sports radio station in Vancouver.

"We at the station are fully supporting David," a spokesperson for the radio station said in an e-mail on Wednesday.