Is the Internet the Root of All Evil?

In today’s society, the Internet has become a staple in the lives of Americans for information, entertainment and social networking. The term “google it” has even become a popular phrase for people with unanswered questions. Even though the Internet is a very helpful tool, it also has the potential to detrimentally harm our society by allowing plagiarism to occur so easily.

Before the invention of the Internet, articles were only able to be read in physical newspapers. But now, the majority of newspapers have online websites and link their posts through sites like Facebook and Twitter. Journalists are able to write from their home computers and have a global identity with the major advances in technology. With the overwhelming amount of readers, articles are now more available to be plagiarized.

The Ledger addressed the issue of the Internet throughout their discussion on plagiarism. The newspaper talked about how if you base your stories around data that you find on the Internet, you have a very high chance of plagiarizing. This could not only result in losing your credibility as a journalist, but also your permanent job in the media field. I’m personally very leery about relying on the Internet because anyone can write/edit websites.

IMG_4707This summer, I was the journalist for my town’s local website, It was actually pretty funny because as an 18-year-old journalist, I never thought that my work would be plagiarized. But at least once a week, I would open up the the Ellwood City Ledger, my town’s local newspaper, to find an article almost identical to mine. Of course, I am not technically a professional journalist yet, so I basically just let it slide. It really made the idea of plagiarism real to me. It sucked not getting any credit for my hard work and ideas.

I am now super cautious of plagiarism when I write any article. I try to gather all my own information without using the Internet or any other articles to keep myself from the risk. I prefer to get material for my stories straight from the source. If I’m forced to use the Internet, I just make sure to give credit when it is needed. When in doubt, attribute! I’d rather play it safe than sorry because I know how it feels to have my work taken.

I feel like The Ledger took so much time to talk about the one piece because in reality, it ended up creating set in stone plagiarism rules for all future pieces. I think their process was extremely effective because now they will have no unanswered questions the next time this occurs in the work place. Journalists now have pretty solid guidelines to follow that will hopefully make them extra cautious when using the Internet and about plagiarism in general.


6 thoughts on “Is the Internet the Root of All Evil?

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more when getting information off the Internet. Everytime I write a paper and get information off another source I always give credit to them. The consequences for not doing it is not worth it! If you thought it was funny that someone plagiarized you, check out the link I posted in my blog, a college football used 11 year olds work for his own (crazy I know). Great post by the way!

  2. I talked about the role of the Internet in my post as well! I am always using Google to fact check. I think it is shocking that people risk losing their credibility as journalists by plagiarizing. Although that is horrible your work was plagiarized, that must have been pretty flattering! You must have done a great job on your stories, and that is proof that you chose the right profession! Also, I love your nails in that picture!

  3. Interesting discussion. Do you think the Internet itself is the problem, or is it the way people use the Internet? Either way, I’d like to hear your rationale. Lots to chew on here.

    And Sarah, always let your bosses know when you see that another publication seems to be taking your work without credit. They are busy people, I’m sure, but they would want to know. It doesn’t matter if you’re an intern or a professional!


  4. Chris: Thank you! I just read the link you posted, I’m really at a loss for words right now. You should NEVER plagiarize at all let alone if you are in the public eye. Also, if Erik Highsmith wanted to plagiarize bad enough, why would he steal the work of an 11-year-old. If I was going to plagiarize, I would at least take a professional’s work not a child in elementary school.

    Meghan: It was so weird having my stories taken especially because the people at the paper have been professional journalists for a number of decades. It was pretty flattering that they wanted the work of a college student. I think part of it was because I’m still so young and was able to do a lot of great pieces with the high schoolers because I still know them. Oh, and thanks about the nails! I had to take them off to save money for study abroad and it’s killing me not having them!

  5. Lori: I guess I think that the problem is more of how people use the Internet. The Internet really is a great and easy source for information. Some people are just so lazy and have no problem taking work that is not theirs. The Internet has made it so much more easy for this to happen but has also invented ways to catch plagiarists. In the school setting especially, professors and teachers will use websites to catch pieces of un-cited plagiarized work. People just need to start being a little more wise when using the Internet for research.

  6. As we continue to talk about background reporting, Sarah, we’ll talk about being able to verify the source of information on the Internet. Remind me of his online conversation if I don’t bring it up in class. We can all stand to be a little more savvy about how we Google 🙂


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