Sunday, June 12, 2011

Flatfooted Plagiarism Continues the "Feeling Fit" Tradition

Welcome Shirley George to the ranks of Sun Coast Media Group plagiarists. Her by-lined article, "Understanding a condition called 'flatfoot'" in this morning's "Feeling Fit" tab, uses Internet material word-for-word without benefit of quotation marks or atttribution.

Old Word Wolf has been alerting Charlotte Sun editors to plagiarists in their pages for more than six years and posting names since the fall of 2007 when a Baptist pastor launched the blog, anchoring the left rail's "Rev." section. Since no one at the newspaper seems to have figured out how to detect petty plagiarism, today's outing is accompanied by a three-step procedure and graphic.

The first step is to fire up the computer and load a Google search page. Type two or three sentences that Shirley George claims to have written into the search field. You can enter the sentences individually or as a group,

The second step is to click on the Google's search button and sit back while Google roams the Internet looking for a match. But don't go out for coffee; in about half a second Google returns more than 200 websites that Shirley George could have copied from.

The next step depends on where you sit. If Shirley George were an honest self-checker, she'd know the next step is inserting a dozen or so "according to...'s " and appropriate quotation marks. If she were a real pro, she would know the next step is paraphrasing -- understanding the material well enough to explain it in her own words and attributing some more. If an editor were checking Shirley George's copy, the editor would see the next step is telling this "correspondent" thanks but no thanks: "You're plagiarizing and we don't use stuff you copy from the Internet."

None of that happened, so the next step is typing Shirley George's name into Old Word Wolf's Blogger widget that lists Sun Coast Media Group plagiarists.

And speaking of Google ....

Reader's Question: What was Cover Editor thinking?

Editor's Answer: "I was thinking I needed a shopworn cliche that's old, stale, irrelevant, not cute, been done a gazillion times before (Google should be able to locate at least a million hits) and features a bad pun that forms a hyphenated nonword that I can display in inverted commas.

Reader: OK, now I understand.


  1. How about a post to explain how to tell when a SCMG writer is NOT plagiarizing?

    From the same tab you quote above: The writer says when she thinks about feet her first thoughts are "those of a podiatrist." The same writer thinks a basketball player with large feet is named O'Neil. She also thinks "small" is "miniscule." And her feet "are as important to me as any of my other extremities for which I will not take for granted." Another non-plagiarizing writer says "... then to be able to count all the toes and fingers ... something we all do as we await the approaching due date." And another non-plagiarizing writer says "Sears only sold what my kids referred to as ..." and added "I do not understand the impractical designs of female shoes." Those are the writers who are NOT plagiarizing because it takes REAL ORIGINALITY to write that badly.

  2. Did the editor actually say that to you???

  3. No, seriously. Did you contact the editor and get that response?

  4. Devil's advocateFri Jun 17, 09:55:00 AM

    Dear OWW: I suggest you research copyright laws. I'm certain you're violating them by republishing copyrighted images from the newspaper without permission. This includes photos and scans of pages (whether story or cover).

  5. @Devil's advocate: (1) Fair use of copyrighted material includes reproduction for critiques and educational purposes. (2) The publishers have known since 2007 about this site and have made numerous visits to it; never once have they asked that an image be removed, giving their tacit permission for over four years. (3) None of the images are being used for a commercial or promotional purpose. (4) None of the images misrepresent what they are or where they come from.

    And your horse in this race is ... ? You expect OWW to say, "Oh, my gosh! Never thought of that! Well, we'll just stop it right now!"

    You're cute.

  6. You left out that fair use includes reproduction for the purposes of satire, parody and comedy.