Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Never inaccurate, even when we plagiarize"

One common thread between the Kouwe plagiarism at the New York Times and the Posner plagiarism at the Daily Beast is an assertion that the stories were accurate. The problem is that slavish copying of an accurate story is NOT a defense to plagiarism.
The point of plagiarism is copying without attribution, not copying of false stories. Now it may be that copying, and propagation, of false stories does more harm to society than copying of true stories, but that is about something beyond plagiarism.

The Guardian put it this way: That's the Times for you, "never inaccurate, even when we plagiarise".

The Guardian also disclosed the letter of Robert Thomson of the WSJ to Bill Keller of the NYT which included text showing that the time gap between release of the WSJ article at 12:25pm and the NYT article at 2:31pm was a mere 2 hours 6 minutes (recall the Supreme Court case INS v. AP). The WSJ letter noted this was not a case of a journalist with perfect recall or of cryptomnesia, but one of "fundamental journalistic integrity."

See previous IPBiz posts:

On Gerald Posner and "accidental plagiarism"

Another plagiarism flap at the New York Times?

One does note that, while the journalists try to uphold a firm perimeter against plagiarism, other elements of society don't really care that much. For example, “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity” concerning the Helene Hegemann/Axolotl Roadkill matter. Further, the US has a vice-president who plagiarized in law school and SIU has a president who plagiarized in his Ph.D. thesis.


A post from the NYT on Tuesday, 16 Feb 2010: A New York Times reporter accused of plagiarizing portions of several articles resigned from the newspaper on Tuesday, according to two people briefed on the matter.


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