We all know that plagiarism is a problem. As journalists, we especially need to know how major of a problem this is. The only thing is, what is it? And more importantly, how do we avoid falling victim of the little traps that are all over journalism, and writing in general. I don’t think it is as hard to figure out as most people complain about.
There are so many cases in which we see people saying that they didn’t realize they were committing plagiarism. I just have to say, how exactly do you not know you’re committing plagiarism. Yes, there are little snags along the way, but if you are looking at someone’s work, reading what they have to say, and taking their work or using their writing without a source, you NEED to know what you are doing. If not, you really need to go back and rethink your writing.
I am highly against the use of “I didn’t know,” as an excuse to get out of plagiarism, and there are some examples where it just simply seems to be inexcusable. For instance, this article truly makes me question how somebody could keep their job through the use of plagiarism. “The Gazette already found three examples of plagiarism “in the past two months alone.” How exactly does that happen? How does a man of prominent position get away with this kind of plagiarism for years? I truly do not understand.
Okay, so enough about my rant. I need to continue my thoughts here, because I could go on for days about that one topic. I believe that the editor is just as responsible as the writer is in dicey situations. An editors job is to pick up on any problems in the writers article, and plagiarism is just one of those problems. The editor MUST be able to pick up if the writer is plagiarizing an article and bring it to the writers attention immediately. If the problem is seen and not fixed, the editor should be, and most times is, responsible along with the writer and can lose a job just as easily.
For instance, editor Jon Flatland, lost his job back in the 90’s after it was discovered he was plagiarizing articles. Tony Bender, publisher of the Ashley Tribune, was not pulling any punches when he was asked about Flatland. “I should have hung (Flatland) from the highest tree,” Bender said. “Naively, I never imagined he would do it again. It appears, given enough rope and a complete lack of conscience, Jon has finally managed to hang himself.” You can’t put it more blandly than that.
All in all, there really is no excuse for committing plagiarism on any article produced. All members involved are responsible for the work done and handed in plagiarism free. It’s sometime true to avoid, but as a writer, you should be able to choose your own words and give credit to anyone who deserves it. If you’re able to do so, you should have no problem avoiding plagiarism.