Is journalistic plagiarism out of control?
by Greg Tingle
Have you read this article before?
you do a considerable amount of reading, you quite
is not a new phenomenon in the journalistic world,
however, some will say it has run rampant ever since
news media websites and "bloggers" became
seems everybody wants to be a journalist, but is afraid
to put in "the hard yards".
the Internet's newest style of news media websites,
are known to contain their fair share of plagiarists.
has recently hit the mainstream in a big way, with
the "gray lady"; The New York Times, being
at the epicentre of the plagiarism universe.
former New York Times journalist, Jayson Blair, an
aspiring, young and talented journalist; made front-page
news not only in New York, but indeed, around the
world, but this time is was about him, and the ghastly
crimes he had committed.
crimes included, but may not be limited to; plagiarism,
falsifying diaries and documents, and plain old copying
verbatim, of other people's work, without giving credit.
He even went so far as to say he was actually in parts
of Iraq when reporting on the war, when in reality,
he was on his home turf in the good old USA.
after Blair's "demise", other New York Timers
have moved on, including former Managing Editor, Gerald
M. Boyd, and former Executive Editor, Howell Raines.
may ask the question, "why do journalists copy
others' work"? This is likely due to unrealistic
deadlines put on them by stressed out editors, lack
of imagination and original thought, lack of confidence,
and lack of morals. It has long been regarded as the
worst crime a journalist can commit.
Riverfront Times (www.riverfronttimes.com)
proudly proclaimed on their website, leading with
the headline; RFT Hires Disgraced NYT Pinocchio: "Jayson
Blair may be persona non grata in New York, but he'll
be right at home here". Upon examination of The
Riverfront Times, it appears to be a website without
any hardcopy newspaper, and contains a good amount
of satire and "made up" stories.
editor, Tom Finkel boasts, "We were looking for
a writer who can get unbelievable scoops, and when
the New York Times busted Jayson, well, it was like
some killer-tasting barbecue sauce fell out of the
sky and landed right on our plate of ribs."
Even so, it doesn't make it clear that the story about
hiring Blair is not true
unless they know something
no one else does. At the time of writing, the RFT
has not responded to e-mail queries from Media
Man Australia, about the claims.
some journalists and editors need to seriously consider
going back to journalist school.
again, that may not be such a wise piece of advice
nor the best cure.
the journalism school is anything like Petersham TAFE
in Sydney, Australia; the students who send their
work to newspapers and news outlets with the view
to getting published, may find that their work will
be plagiarized, or "binned".
TAFE student, "James", recently wrote an
article on an historical societies' issues with the
local council, in Sydney's Hill's district. He called
the local paper to "pitch" the idea, as
part of a TAFE assignment. The editor said, "sorry,
not very interested, but you can send over your ideas
if you like". James asked, "can you give
me some feedback on my work"? The editor didn't.
Some 4 weeks later the article appeared in the very
same newspaper, with a different headline, and a limited
number of changes. James had clearly done the work.
the same classroom, Greg wrote a series of articles
on the crime-wave going through his local suburb of
Maroubra. He e-mailed and telephoned the major and
local newspapers and news outlets. A few days later
his article was on page 5 of a major Sydney newspaper,
in a slightly re-written format.
and James's teacher says, "there is no bigger
compliment than imitation". Perhaps so, but payment
for ones efforts and credit to the author would be
a nice gesture. The TAFE teacher also suggested that
some of the TAFE journalism teachers were "very
well connected" and "switched into the newspapers".
One may draw ones own conclusions from that statement.
what tips can the "clean" journalist learn
copies of all your work, and extensive notes on who
you make contact with, when and about what subject!
to the extent that you may be tempted to "borrow"
or "lift" a few of the ideas?
bother, someone probably already has.
News Network www.hnn.us
Newcastle plagiarism scandal - NineMSN - Sunday 10th
University of Newcastle
Poynter Institute Online: The First Peril: Fabrication
My Story? Help Yourself!, by Ken Layne - Online Journalism
in the News