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Stories in Plagiarism

A case study of recent journalist plagiarism stories.

Sean Coletti

on 31 January 2013

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Transcript of Stories in Plagiarism

Michael Olesker, Baltimore Sun "In my view, the critical element is intent. At no time have we ever attempted to pass off someone else's work as our own. If other material was used without proper attribution, it was inadvertent. Regardless, because of the import of the issue, I cannot continue to be an effective voice for the editorial board of The Florida Times-Union and I have told publisher Carl Cannon that I would like to retire as soon as possible." ~ Lloyd Brown, editorial page editor "Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility." ~ SPJ Code of Ethics, Preamble "There is a vague popular belief that [journalists] are necessarily dishonest. . . . Let no young man [or woman] choosing [journalism] for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief -- resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest [journalist], resolve to be honest without being a [journalist]. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave." ~ Abraham Lincoln (adapted by Sean J. Coletti) Three instances of plagiarism Many other instances of lack of complete attribution Maureen Dowd, New York Times 1.
"More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq." ~ Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo 2.
"More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq." ~ Dowd "I didn't read his blog last week, and didn't have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now. I was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent--and I assumed spontaneous--way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column. But, clearly, my friend must have read Josh Marshall without mentioning that to me. We're fixing it on the web, to give Josh credit, and will include a note, as well as a formal correction tomorrow." ~ explanation from Maureen Dowd "Translucent and glowing, they ooze up from the ground and float through solid walls, wriggling countless tentacles and snapping their jaws. There's known as Phantoms, alien thingies that, for three decades, have been sucking the life out of the earthlings of 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.'" ~ Steve Murray - Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Translucent and glowing, they ooze up from the ground and float through solid walls, splaying their tentacles and snapping their jaws, dripping a discomfiting acidic ooze. They're known as the Phantoms, otherworldly beings who, for three decades, have been literally sucking the life out of the earthlings of the human." ~ Domenech Ben Domenech, Washington Post "I was certainly sloppy.
If I had paid more attention, none of these problems would have happened." Question:

Do you want your journalism career to fly? or

FREEFALL.... http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s2060271.htm "it has since been pointed out to me that these 3 sentences look as though they came from a similar story in another newspaper." ~ Koch Fareed Zakaria - CNN, Time Magazine "Laws that banned the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813, and other states soon followed...." ~ Jill Lepore, The New Yorker Zakaria:

CNN Host
Editor at large at Time Magazine
Washington Post columnist
Blogger "Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column this week bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore's essay in the April 23 issue of The New Yorker. They are right. I made a terrible mistake. It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault. I apologize unreservedly to her, to my editors at Time, and to my readers."
~ Zakaria "Laws banning the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813. Other states soon followed...." ~ Zakaria How does it feel? "On one of his first trips out of the hospital, an old girlfriend pushed him around Washington in his wheelchair. Outside the White House, the chair hit a curb and Cleland pitched forward and fell out. He remembers flopping around helplessly in the dirt and cigarette butts in the gutter."
~Peter Carlson, Washington Post On one of his first trips out, an old girlfriend pushed his wheelchair around Washington. Near the White House, the wheelchair hit a curb. Cleland pitched forward and fell out, flopping around in dirt and cigarette butts in a gutter." ~ Olesker Other misdeeds: Column described meeting Olesker did not attend Failing to report objectively about issues dealing with the Governor's administration RESIGNED QUIT Monica Crowley, Fox News pla-gia-rism:
to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own;
to use (another's production) without crediting the source;
to commit literary theft;
to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
~ Merriam-Webster "There was none of the personal corruption which had marked the rule of Lyndon Johnson, let alone the gross immoralities and security risks of John F. Kennedy's White House."
~ Paul Johnson, Commentary, Oct. 1988 "There was none of the personal corruption that had marked the rule of Lyndon Johnson or the base immoralities and outrageous security risks of the Kennedy and Clinton White Houses."
~ Monica Crowley, August 1999 "Nixon . . . consistently underestimated the unscrupulousness of his media enemies and their willingness to sacrifice the national interest in the pursuit of their institutional vendetta."
~ Paul Johnson, 1988 "Nixon, though always suspicious of his political enemies, consistently underestimated their ruthlessness and willingness to sacrifice the national interest in pursuit of their institutional vendetta."
~ Crowley By a curious paradox Richard Nixon was one of the very few people who emerged from the Watergate affair with credit."
~ Paul Johnson, 1988 "Ironically, Nixon was one of the few people who emerged from Watergate with credit..."
~ Crowley Improperly attributed quotes
Paragraphs lifted from other publications
Named sources who could not be found More than 1/3 of stories written for The Bakersfield Californian contained "serious problems" Plagiarized material
Factual errors
Misattributed quotes and information
Lack of verification of witnesses
Merging expert quotes FIRED Nada Behziz Jayson Blair New York Times TALENTED ambitious DANGEROUS jonah
lehrer YES: IS SELF-PLAGIARISM BAD? Readers deserve to know when you are writing original work Editors won't appreciate that you are passing off old material as brand new Also, self editing may be a sign OF BIGGER PROBLEMS COPYING MULTIPLE WHOLE PARAGRAPHS FROM OTHER SOURCES "It was a stupid thing to do and incredibly lazy and absolutely wrong." ~ Lehrer "Mr. Lehrer's troubles reflected the difficulty of filling a blog with a steady drip of quirky, surprising findings that also happen to be true." ~ Dan Simons What should you watch for: Juggling too much work;
Too many writing responsibilities;
Unwillingness to think up original work;
Getting lazy with writing;
No quality control or editorial review;
Not enough sleep;
Drugs, alcohol abuse entering your life. POP QUIZ (by the Journal Register Company) 1.
In your reporting on a story, you come across a story from another newspaper's website that explains pretty well what happened. You decide to use an extensive passage from the story in your story. Which of the following is the appropriate ways to attribute?
a. No attribution, link or quotation marks needed.
b. Attribute to "media reports."
c. Attribute but do not link.
d. Attribute but do not quote.
e. Link but do not attribute.
f. Attribute to the news outlet or website by name, link to the other site and use quotation marks or an indented block quote to note where you are using the other story's exact words. 2. In your reporting on a story, you find a story on a competing news organization's website that has a good quote from a key figure in the story whom you have not been able to interview. You decide to use the quote in your story. Choose the correct way to attribute.
a. Use the quote, saying the speaker said it to "reporters."
b. Attribute the news organization by name and link to the other site.
c. Link to the story but do not mention the competing organization.
d. Attribute but do not link.
e. Use the quote, attributing to the speaker but not the news organization. 3. In your reporting for a story, you find a blog that includes a clear sequence of events. You want to use this sequence in your story. What is the proper way to use this information?
a. It's OK to use the passage verbatim because it is just a blog, and not a recognized news organization.
b. If you reword slightly, it is OK to use the passage.
c. Use the passage verbatim, attributing it to "a blog."
d. Attribute to the blog by name and link to the blog, whether you quote or paraphrase. Use quotation marks if you are using the blog's exact words.
e. Use the passage verbatim, linking but not mentioning the blog. 4. An organization on your beat sends you a press release. You decide the information in the press release is newsworthy. Which is the correct way to use the press release?
a. Use the press release verbatim and publish it under your byline without attribution to the organization. After all, the organization only wants publicity, not credit. It sent you the release hoping you'd publish it.
b. Quote some or all of the press release verbatim, attributing it to a press release from the organization and providing a link, if the release is available online.
c. Verify the facts independently and write your own story, possibly using and attributing a few quotes from the release. 5. You are assigned to aggregate content from other media on a topic. Which is the right way to use content from other media in carrying out this assignment?
a. Cut and paste the best quotes and facts that you find into your story and publish them as your work without attribution, using photos that you find on the other sites.
b. Publish an entire story on your site with attribution and a link.
c. Publish brief excerpts (1-3 paragraphs) from stories that you aggregate, linking to the stories. Seek permission to use any photos that you want to include. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFRVSFEtdXJKdFlwaGh6dktpdlY0M2c6MQ FIRED DISGRACED probably will
never work in
journalism again PLAGIARISM Results of plagiarism:

1. You plagiarize, you are caught, your career is over.
2. You plagiarize, you admit to it, your career is over.
3. You plagiarize, you are not caught and do not admit to it, and you have to live with the decision for the rest of your life.
4. You NEVER plagiarize. The Bakersfield Californian http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/08/jonah_lehrer_plagiarism_in_wired_com_an_investigation_into_plagiarism_quotes_and_factual_inaccuracies_.html
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