Sunday, October 2, 2011

Layers of Integrity

Writing for publication requires integrity.  In ninth and tenth grade classrooms, the first layer of integrity is taught in a straightforward manner:  If you copy stuff, you have to say who you copied from.  In J-School, another layer of integrity is added: Identify news and information sources so readers can fairly evaluate the reporting.

In post-grad and professional schools, such as those attended by Licensed Clinical Social Workers, a couple more layers of integrity accrue: Professionals in positions of trust identify sources in order to demonstrate professional integrity with regard to their research and the work of their colleagues. When they're in position to dispense quasi-medical advice, they carry an additional, special burden of integrity.  Readers will, rightly or wrongly, tend to rely on the letters after their names as an indicator of their expertise -- and integrity.

Thus it's triply sad that Barbara Pierce, who claims to be a retired Licensed Clinical Social Worker, once again, betrays her readers, editors and publishers by plagiarizing substantial parts of her reporting  in the regional newspaper. In today's edition of The Charlotte Sun's Sunday tab, "Feeling Fit," Pierce's by line appears at the top of an item about traumatic events.  In it, she writes: "When bad things happen, it can take awhile to get over the pain and feel safe again."

But Pierce didn't write it.  Including the grammar error that Pierce didn't fix, it's word for word from a webpage anchored with ads and sporting a thin river of "content" down the middle called "Healing Emotional and Psychological Trauma." Readers can see it live at  Help Guide Dot Org Website.

Pierce's article in the Charlotte Sun goes on:   "Upsetting emotions, frightening memories, being easily startled, a sense of constant danger that doesn't go away. Or you may feel numb, disconnected and unable to trust each other."  Compare her sentence with Help Guide:  "You may be struggling with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger that you just can't kick.  Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people."  (It's not terribly important but for some reason, Pierce feels the need to change the websites' full-sentence copy into sentence fragments, editing acceptable 10th grade sentence structure to substandard English that wouldn't pass the state's FCAT exam.)

Pierce visits another another website over at Find Articles dot com * in order to plagiarize the nugget, "Some people are born with the ability to bounce back.  Experts promise that those of us who were not born with with ability can learn the skills to carry us through the tough times."  The same site also yields a quote from a Texas researcher.  Old World Wolf will wager a substantial amount that Pierce did not speak to that researcher herself but simply inserted a quote attributed to "Roberta Greene, Ph.D." without without having verified or actually spoken to the person. 

* Or Shape Fitness, an on-line magazine:


On a more cheerful note: A crash blossom worthy of  TCE's longest-ever thread filled in the lower right corner of Saturday's Charlotte Sun:

1 comment:

  1. "When bad things happen, it can take awhile to get over the pain and feel safe again."
    Applies to readers burned by journalistic plagiarism who receive no apology or explanation. This woman has a license in something? If it's anything more than a driver's license, it should be revoked by her profession's ethics board.