Why It’s Important for Journalist to Avoid Plagiarism?

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It Is Important to Avoid Plagiarism in Journalism

A news organizations professionalism, reliability and public accountability are three of its most valuable assets. The general public depends on news organizations to give an honest and accurate account when they report a story. An organization earns and maintains its reputation based in part on its adherence to ethical journalistic standards. As representatives of a news agency, how individual journalists conduct themselves while carrying out their job reflects on the entire organization. Journalism ethics are based on professional conduct, morality and the truth and failing to follow these fundamental principles can lead to misrepresenting or misleading members of the public. Plagiarism is considered a serious violation of journalistic ethics. A journalist that commits plagiarism is risking not only their own reputation but the reputation of the organization they work for. By plagiarizing a story a journalist calls into question the validity of any story they have reported on and harms the reputation of the organization they represent. And you can use online paraphrase services, but don’t forget to keep main thoughts.

What is Considered Plagiarism in Journalism?

Plagiarism in journalism is much the same as anywhere else. There are essentially three types of plagiarism that occurs in journalism. Plagiarism of information is using information another reporter has gathered without crediting them or their publication. Plagiarism of writing is when a reporter directly copies segment/segments of another reporter’s story and uses it in their own article. The third type is plagiarism of ideas which is when a reporter has a idea or theory about a news issue and another reporter advances that theory as their own. So, general rules of content paraphrase suggest that the best start is to avoid plagiarism of ideas, this way you won’t ve thinking of spinning words and rephrasing.

Plagiarism as most people understand it is copying. While many will see this as just reusing someone else’s words it is in fact far more than that. It is also using someone else’s ideas and thoughts and presenting them as your own. All of the following are therefore considered plagiarism in journalism:

  • Reusing another’s words without giving credit or having permission: whether it is through simply being too lazy to change the words to something that is unique to you or because you are blatantly presenting the information as your own copying is not something that any journalist should stoop to.
  • Using someone else’s ideas and theories as your own: trying to make out that an idea is your own when it has come from another is also considered as plagiarism. You should always credit the originator.
  • Using other people’s information without giving credit: using the sources and information gathered by another journalist in their article and presenting them as your own is also considered plagiarism. You should give credit to where you have drawn the information.

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Cases of Journalist Plagiarism in the News

Unfortunately, plagiarism in journalism appears to be on the rise. WIRED released a reporter recently when plagiarism was discovered in four stories. A WQXR online editor resigned after 10 stories that they filed were found to have plagiarized material. Many reporters have lost their jobs as a result of plagiarizing, but not all plagiarism cases are treated equally. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria was suspended by both CNN and Time in 2012 when it was found he plagiarized one of his Time columns. Although since then three outlets (The Washington Post, Newsweek and Slate) have placed corrections on 13 of Mr. Zacharias articles and 26 accusations of plagiarism have been made for his CNN work, he still hosts a show on CNN and still writes a column for the Washington Post. Rather than seeing a CNN journalist fired for plagiarizing we have seen very little backlash for plagiarizing on numerous occasions. Others who have had far fewer instances of plagiarism have lost their jobs so apparently, it helps to be famous.

Consequences of Plagiarism in Journalism

Discounting the case of Fareed Zakaria, plagiarism uses has severe consequences for journalists. Being suspended for plagiarism would be considered minor punishment. It is far more likely that the plagiarizing journalist would be fired. There is also the possibility that legal action might be taken which could result in having to pay monetary compensation or could even end in imprisonment. While it is much easier to plagiarize now than ever before it is also easier to catch plagiarists. The best way for journalists to avoid plagiarism and its consequences are using checking for plagiarism tools, to write their own stories and to attribute sources where they obtained information and ideas that weren’t their own.

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So What Are the Consequences of Plagiarism?

The headline “Journalist fired plagiarism” is one very possible outcome and not an unusual one in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. Most publications will not want to be associated with a journalist that has been shown to simply plagiarize the works of others. They will want to be known for providing robust and original reporting that people can trust. Not being a repository of information that has simply been copied from elsewhere.

The following are all possible results for both the journalist and also the publication itself:

  • Termination of employment: many publications and other outlets will simply remove the offender from their employment without even a second thought.
  • Difficulty in gaining future work published: whether you are a freelancer or an employed journalist you will find it almost impossible to get work published in the future if you have been shown to be a plagiarist.
  • Loss of reputation: readers will have little respect for your work if you have plagiarized work in the past.
  • Legal action: if another publication or individual feels that they have been injured in some way such as financially then you could be easily taken to court for damages.
  • Loss of circulation: a publication that has allowed a journalist to plagiarize could themselves suffer from a loss to their own reputation and the resulting reduction in sales, viewers, or visitors. This can have a major financial impact.

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