Wrap Up: AP Controversy, Cowherd & More

Plagiarism has been in the news in a major way this week. However, with so much focus on the Ben Domenech scandal that other important plagiarism stories have gone almost unnoticed. Still, there hasn’t been enough time this week to report everything that’s been going on so here’s a look at what else has been happening in plagiarism news on the Web.

Associated Press Plagiarism Scandal

On March 13, 2006 John Byrne and Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story posted a heavily-researched article about U.S National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley revising guidelines on accessing classified data, The article wound up being of great interest to gay rights groups as one of the critical changes revolved around relaxing of sexual discrimination guidelines. 

The next day, Katherine Shrader of the Associated Press (AP), a news wire service with over 1,500 member newspapers that serves thousands of subscribing news organizations, picked up the story and ran her own version of it. The story, however, contained no mention of the original Byrner and Alexandrovna version and offered no credit to Raw Story despite lifting much of the research and several sections of the article.

When Alexandrovna called the AP to seek a correction, she was told by both a senior editor and a representative at media relations that they had indeed been sent the Raw Story article and that they"do not credit blogs". While this seems to go against the AP’s own ethics policy, which simply states "The newspaper should not plagiarize words or images" (see also their updated news values and principles), it also seems to go against their common practices as some have posted several instances of the AP duly crediting blogs while others have noticed cases where blogs have either not been credited or credited inadequately.

This, in turn, created a storm of controversy on the Web. This lead some bloggers to term this a class war, that the AP logo is now a "scarlet letter" and that the plagiarism was simply "shameful".

In the end, this story is very much ongoing. I myself have calls out to the AP seeking comment and will report back as things develop.

Cowherd Controversy

In the sports world, Colin Cowherd, a DJ with ESPN Radio , was recently accused of taking matieral from the Michigan Football blog The M Zone for his March 23rd show. The bit, which aired at the very end of the broadcast, centered around a spoof of the NFL’s Wonderlic intelligence test called "The M Zone Collegiate Intelligence Test".

Cowherd, initially, was defiant when first informed about the oversight. In his responce to The M Zone , he said in part: 

"WE WERE SENT IT….WE HAD NO IDEA..BUT THE INCESSANT WHINING…MEANS I WON’T GIVE YOU CREDIT NOW..GET OVER IT"

This caused an immediate uproar in the sports blogging community, leaving some to call for a boycott of the show and wonder if there is a different plagiarism standard for radio.

In the end, the matter was resolved when, on his March 27th show, Cowherd apologized for the omission and corrected the error. allegedly under pressure from ESPN. Nonetheless, The M Zone is satisfied with the apology and announced the matter closed.

Vladimir Putin: Plagiarist?

Finally, Russian President Vladimir Putin was labeled a plagiarist after a pair of investigators at the Brookings Institution discovered that significant portions of his college thesis were lifted from a Russian Translation of a management study written by two professors at the University of Pittsburgh in 1978.

According to Clifford G. Gaddy, a senior fellow at Brookings, at least 16 pages of Mr. Putin’s work, which was titled The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations, were lifted either word for word or with minor alterations from the previous study. 

The original work, a book entitled Strategic Planning and Policy by William King and David Cleland, also contains graphs and other elements that strong resemble those that appear in Putin’s dissertation, indicating further possible plagiarism by Putin.

Though much has been made about these allegations in the political blogging world, Putin himself has been quiet on the matter. Needless to say, if things develop any further, we’ll report on it here,

(Note: This article went up a day late due to an electrical problem which shut down my computer room for several hours last night. I’m sorry for the delay

[tags]Plagiarism, AP, Associated Press, Cowherd, ESPN, Putin, Content Theft, Copyright Infringement[/tags]