In 2012, I called on journalists and their institutions to get in front of the issue of plagiarism and to start being proactive about plagiarism.
The time for the conversation was ripe. It was just after the “Summer of Sin” that saw a wide range of plagiarism scandals including Jonah Lehrer, Fareed Zakaria, Margaret Wente and more.
But while the headlines haven’t been as great since then, there’s no doubt that plagiarism remains a major problem in journalism. In 2013 alone the Daily Mail was accused of plagiarizing a key interview with Emma Thompson, twice, the Washington Post faced serious allegations of plagiarism and, in my hometown of New Orleans, a popular staff column was removed from a weekly newspaper after some of the columns turned up plagiarized.
These are just three of countless examples of plagiarisms, retractions and embarrassments for journalism in 2013. Yet, despite the obvious warnings, most newspapers and other institutes of journalism have done little to prevent plagiarism amidst their ranks. In fact, the Washington Post removed its ombudsman, known for his tough stance on plagiarism, and replaced him with a weakened position that was filled for less than a year.
If anything, journalism seems to be retreating on the issue of plagiarism even as evidence mounts that it’s time to get more aggressive on the subject. So what’s going on? Why is the fourth estate backing down from one of its most serious ethical challenges?
There are many reasons for it but here are five of the key factors at play.Continue Reading