The Fraudsters

Last semester, we have this group presentation addressing different topics about journalism. There is one about journalism fraud, which left deep impression to me. While learning, I’ve had a Chinese old saying lingering on my mind: The day has eyes, the night has ears. Don’t ever expect the fake stays under the blanket. I know that some journalists tend to persuade or console themselves when cheating since plagiarism is, indeed the grey zone. It’s hard to define so it’s hard to decide. But when I listened to my classmates’ presentation that time, I thought, when you know it, you know it.


Probably because I’m not a journalist now, not yet; so I can say this without further consideration: When I do my research on this topic, I think everything appeared so apparent. It’s neither coincidence nor incaution that are excuse for plagiarism; it’s all self-inflicted. In the Jason Blair case, he stated pretty clear that he was the one who caused the situation in the conference after the scandal. ( Also for Stephen Glass, who commits one of the most heinous hoaxes in journalism history, took the wrong path with full caution. It’s no easy to find any excuse for a man who wrote 42 fictional articles for 2 ½years.(  Janet Cooke’s Jimmy’s world fooled both the editors and the Pulitzer board. She apologized to “all seekers of the truth”. ( 


Although I hold such an absolute opinion toward plagiarism, when I read the Plagiarism Committee Report, I swung. The biggest confusion I have in the report is the rules part. Based on personal experience, I tend to lose my confidence when writing serious reports and I can’t control to read others to inform me as an instructions. I knew journalist do take notes from sources before writing. But in the report, saying “Some writing coaches suggest that you write through the story without notes at first”.  I take notes all the time and I have to admit that notes do affect your own inspirations unintentionally. For my stage now, I can’t really get rid of the notes; sources help me to gain a general sense to what I’m about to write. I somehow found my articles reflect some similarities as my sources. How can I stay away from plagiarism and those strong effects without giving up notes?



One thought on “The Fraudsters

  1. Hi Viola — Let me try to clarify a bit about the notes. I don’t think the report is saying to stop taking notes. We all need them!

    The suggestion is to not read your notes as you are writing the first draft of your story. If you are not taking information directly from your notes and putting it into your story (into another Word or text file), you are less likely to be copying someone else’s work. You will be putting the big concepts in your own words, and using ideas that are more of your own.

    Does that help?

    I’m not sure what I think about that. I do write my first drafts without notes sometimes, but I never have done so specifically to avoid plagiarizing.

    What does everyone else think?


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