Friday, November 03, 2006

Karma for Plagiarists?

I honestly wasn't going to blog anymore about that plagiarism case, but I found this wonderful example of what-goes-around-comes- around-ness. Someone called Tiban had posted this link on Jeff Ooi's blog to an another article about plagiarism:

And the culprit this time - wait for it - is no other than plagiarised himself!:
Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom lifted quotes from other publications without attribution and in some stories quotes appeared to be slightly changed from how they appeared elsewhere, according to a Free Press investigation of their embattled star writer.
And he also apparently fabricated his facts!

Incidentally, just look at how the newspaper apologises for the plagiarism, and takes responsibilty for the actions of its journalist, emphasising that it has a code of ethics to maintain. Isn't that great!
At a time when public trust in the media is low, credibility is a treasured commodity.
Quite.

(Pic nicked, though not plagiarised, from the Age)

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Neil Gaiman has a post in which a sun reporter basically rewrites a paragraph someone wrote for the Independent.. it's at :

http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/

in the "News from Earth X" section :)

A treasured commodity indeed. But there are (or were) some good ones yet. I discovered John M Ford

http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/15868982.htm?source=rss&channel=twincities_local

probably the last writer to dedicate his life to his craft. Must find his books now.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks for the links. in the first case it isn't really plagiarism (so okay it was lifted via another source) but the orig. writers are credited ... but it is v. bad journalism because the writer didn't take the trouble to get the quote right and mangle it ...

Eliza said...

Sharon, what happened to Mitch Albom in the first article you linked to, where he took other writers' paragraphs without attributing them? That's a clear case of plagiarism, if you ask me. In the second, I can accept the apology as he wrote based on what the players said. I agree, the newspaper's apology is redeeming. Am having second thoughts of buying another Mitch Albom book now.

Yvonne Lee said...

I've been following the BP saga (thanks to Jeff and you, Sharon) and though I don't condone the act of plagiarism, I feel terribly sorry that commentators there are very harsh and some, downright rude.

That 'schaedefreude spirit' among those who condemned BP irks me. Why stone a 'dead man' still?

I really hope there's his side to the story, though Jeff's side-by-side comparison of the 2 works shows that there's nothing much to be explained anymore.


I met BP and his wife during a kids' party a few years ago. He was still with The Straits Times then.
Personally, I found him and especially his wife, really pleasant people.

Therefore, there's this bit in me that says 'condemn the person for his act but not the person.' People make mistake sometimes. They should be given the chance to move on.

To lift a line from Singaporean Jack Neo's movie about ex-convicts, where one ex-convict, after having failed in a job interview and burst out in frustration,
" The judge gave me 10 years of imprisonment but the society gave me a lifetime of imprisonment"

bibliobibuli said...

eliza - not sure what happened to albom though i'm sure it's possible to google and find out. he's still writing for the paper anyway!!

fiction is fiction lah eliza, he didn't plagiarise his books i'm sure. but that kind of writing is just too glurgacious for me. (one day must write rat soup for the cynics soul)

yvonne - i actually do feel very sorry for BP (journalism is tough and his job probably one of the toughest, though i have no real interst in newspaper politics) and agree with you that the act is not the person. plagiarism is serious - the biggest crime in journalism. but as i tried to show in my earlier post - there are degrees of plagiarism. BP took form rather than content from another writer, which i can't see is anywhere near as serious as lifting phrases or fabricating information. he was wrong not to have attributed or given a passing nod to his source. (and he's a big enough boy to know what he was doing) the bloggers were right to bring this to light. the NST should now promise to investigate not hedge and deny, BP should explain why it happened and apologise. the NST (and other newspaper) should make sure all of its journalists follow a code of conduct which includes a no plagiarism clause.

it's interesting that when i revealed a case of plagiarism last year and wrote to the newspaper in question there was simply no reply and no public apology ... just an embarrassed silence and a quiet relocation of the writer in question ... i think the media must learn to take responsibilty and treat plagiarism seriously.

and i think at present everyone seems to be overreacting and using this case as a way of propogating rivalries. what the bbc's jonathan kent said about hew vs. old media is spot on.

Lydia Teh said...

Sharon, it's not such a bleak scenario with our newspapers. I remember a plagiarism case where The Star published a public apology to a plagiarised food writer whose work had been lifted.

bibliobibuli said...

that's good news lydia. maybe the star is better ...

walski69 said...

In the BP case, many commenters were spirited by their dislike for the NST and BP, and so the plagiarism issue became simply icing on the cake, so to speak.

Plus, the silly way the NST management handled the issue just gave us bloggers more ammo to work with...

I agree, though, that plagiarism of form is a lesser sin, but still some hint to his source of inspiration should've been made.

Oh well... Politics can be ugly; but when coupled with governmental politics, with which the NST is closely associated, the ugliness simply brims over with spitefulness that has accumulated from all related sources...

BTW - on a totally tangential note, I also wanted to say "Good Job" with Manuscripts Don't Burn. I'll be putting a button up at my blog very soon...

bibliobibuli said...

hi walski - v. nice blog you have! agree with all you've said. i took an interst in the BP case simply because i was intrsted in the issue of plagiarism - no axe to grind. i tend to get on my moral high horse about it - maybe because i was once a lecturer!

Anonymous said...

Well.. NG seems to think it's plagiarism, because he says the Sun reporter "reads the Independent" -- why would he say that if he didn't think the quote was lifted from it ? Which makes you wonder.. if you steal a quote from another source (but credit the original people who said it) is it still plagiarism ?

bibliobibuli said...

compicated one anonymous ... actually i wouldn't say so ... but it could still be unethical ... and i wouldn't do it