Thursday, April 15, 2010

When You Don't Say Where You Got It, We Call It Plagiarism

Today's Arcadian carries an editorial that appeared earlier this week in a Fort Worth, Texas, paper. Susan Hoffman, Arcadian managing editor, uses the editorial without attribution and appropriates not only the copy but the headline, as well.

Sure, next week Hoffman will run a little note acknowledging the borrowing (although the last time she tried this, even the correction was wrong -- see March 4, below). But the practice points to more than just unintentional plagiarism brought on by careless copy editing.

The practice of running out-of-state editorials (with or without 'fessing up to their origins) tells readers the editorial staff lacks the time -- and the will -- to express a local viewpoint on local issues. And when it's time to roll the presses, just about any space filler will do.

Devoting local Viewpoint space to a national story that didn't appear in the hyper-local weekly Arcadian tells readers that their news leadership is reluctant to comment on DeSoto County issues. In fact, dozens of important local stories -- the ones that are not flattering to the powers that be -- never make it to the paper. Filling space with out-of-town "viewpoints" tells readers that their watchdog is a lapdog.

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