The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Perspective on plagiarism

Edward Wasserman, a J-prof prepared to say that the shock-horror on plagiarism is overdone. After all,
With a novel or poem we know what we mean by originality: The writer created something fresh and unique, gave us something new and different.

But journalists? They're not supposed to be original. They're forbidden to originate things. They don't invent characters or plots. Their whole job is to find and convey realities, words, ideas from somewhere else.

However, he doesn't take the further step of identifying the purpose of the exaggerated hoo-has drummed up over instances of plagiarism: misdirection.

A newspaper may acknowledge the fault of plagiarism and 'cure' it by disposing of the erring journo. But with such fundamental problems as he said she said reporting, there is no such easy answer.

The regular plagiarism blood-letting allows media outlets to show remorse and make a show of pro-activity in quality control whilst leaving the systemic evils of journalism untouched.

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