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Rooting out plagiarism

by on April 8, 2014

Plagiarism is the worst crime a writer can commit to the audience and everyone involved with the lie. Jayson Blair knowingly made stories up as he went along: Places he’d been, people he talked to and events that were a complete work of fiction.

But why do these individuals commit the act in the first place?

One reason is due to deadline pressures that constrain journalists to push a story out as fast as possible, more so for a news wire.

Thankfully new websites and software have been put out on the internet to catch these acts of fabrication. One under the name of churnalism put out by the Sunlight Foundation, the new software was designed to root out copied and pasted material from numerous press releases online.

This is a good improvement but the chances of plagiarism in the work place are still high, which have led some journalists, like Blair, down the path of deception. Journalist’s that plagiarize are in pursuit of a good sounding story and not a factual story.

This problem of factual versus good in truthful story telling is connected to the bias of some journalists. Developing a need to portray a certain view to the public.

I’ve learned today that if a journalist wants people to take action on a certain subject, lying can become a means of getting that action. This comes from the Mike Daisey interview played in class today, when mentioning he wanted make people care about the Foxconn factory workers.

Lying about the situation the workers are in and knowing it’s not true will only make people less interested in the subject. Daisy let his personal bias get in the way of his reporting, and ultimately suffered because he thought that telling lies about the factory workers would make people take action for better work environments is absurd.

All these plagiarist’s have their excuses; some are more ridiculous than others. Thankfully some journalists have noticed this dangerous trend and offer tips and steps publications can use to stop plagiarism before it happens.

The counter-plagiarism handbook is one such source that provides insight into tracking down plagiarist’s, and how journalists and editors can work together to make sure misinformation doesn’t surface in the publications.

Because knowing more about how these plagiarists operate under pressure will make it a little easier to avoid this problem, and hopefully the only person that gets burned in the process is the fabricator of information.


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One Comment
  1. I think this is an interesting comment for several reasons. Reporters should be trusted by the public to write a story that is their own with research. Simply plagiarizing another person’s work completely destroys the credibility of that reporter, which makes it never worth it to steal someone else’s work. I personally don’t believe there is ever an acceptable excuse to steal another person’s work, and like you said, it’s good that there are journalists who have been noticing the dangerous trend and working to stop it. Unfortunately, there will reporters who will continue to steal other people’s work, something I believe to be inevitable.

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