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. Wait -- we have to confess something very important now. We didn't really write that first sentence. We copied it from a Feb. 16 journalism blog post by Alan D. Mutter of California to show what it means to plagiarize -- which is pronounced PLAY-jar-EYES and means using someone's sentences or original phrases without credit.
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. Former editor Alan Mutter, the blogger quoted with belated credit earlier here, explains why this matters: "The practice is intellectually dishonest. . . . It is wrong to steal someone's bicycle and it is wrong to steal someone's ideas or work product in order to represent it as your own."
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
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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