FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 01, 2010
Damage spreads when writers use the Net to plagiarize
Most news and feature section content comes from original reporting, writing and other creativity. Show an example you think took a lot of work.
Some traditional newspaper offerings present basic facts that are the same in all papers, which isn't plagiarism. Find or name something in that category.
List or discuss reasons why newspapers generally are trustworthy information sources.
The ease with which content can be remixed these days not only has eliminated every technological barrier to plagiarism, but also enabled some jaw-dropping justifications for this utterly indefensible practice.
The misdeed, which has been in the news lately, ranks right up there with inventing facts or quotes as one of a nonfiction writer's worst sins. It erodes readers' trust, betrays a fellow writer and undercuts the editorial safeguards aimed at reinforcing credibility of published material. That's why two recent examples brought career-harming penalties.
New York Times business reporter-blogger Zachery Kouwe resigned last month after being suspended for copying parts of Wall Street Journal and Reuters articles without credit. A week earlier, the Daily Beast news website dismissed chief investigative reporter Gerald Posner for lifting the work of other journalists.
Newspaper says: "The Times has dealt with this . . . consistent with our standards to protect the integrity of our journalism." -- Diane McNulty, spokeswoman, commenting on writer's departure Feb. 16, 2010
TV commentator says: "It's amazing -- especially these younger people, who are very coherent about what's going on in the Internet era -- think they could get away with something like this. . . . It can be checked instantly." -- Cal Thomas, "Fox News Watch" program, Feb. 20, 2010
Blogger says: "The reason bloggers don't often plagiarize is that we don't need to. We can make a point by piggy-backing off of factual statements or opinions from others, and easily make it clear that we didn't say it first. " -- Michael Roston at trueslant.com
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