I am working with representatives of several journalism groups on recommendations to help news organizations prevent plagiarism and fabrications. We’d like to know what policies your newsrooms or organizations have relating to these issues.
We’re interested not just in policies that say what the penalties are for ripping stuff off or making it up, but whether you have policies explaining how journalists should attribute the facts and quotes they use (including linking). We’re interested in any policies related to fact-checking, running stories through plagiarism-checking software or random Google checks.
The presidents of the American Copy Editors Society and the Society of Professional Journalists committed to a plagiarism “summit” next spring, after a summer when offenses were so plentiful that Craig Silverman called it journalism’s “summer of sin.” Several other journalism organizations have joined the discussions: Associated Press Media Editors, Online News Association, American Society of News Editors, Canadian Association of Journalists, Radio-Television Digital News Association, College Media Advisers, Local Independent Online News Publishers and perhaps others (I’ll update the list if I learn of others).
I am representing ONA and Digital First Media in the discussions. I am pleased that we’re focusing not just on plagiarism and fabrication, but on proper attribution. We have divided the work into three topics: defining plagiarism and fabrication, prevention and response. I am in the group focusing on prevention.
We are collecting policies addressing plagiarism, fabrication and attribution. I’d like your help:
- If your newsroom, university, association or other organization has a policy or multiple policies addressing plagiarism, fabrication and/or proper attribution (including linking issues), please share it with us. You can drop a link in the comments here or email me a pdf at stephenbuttry (at) gmail (dot) com.
- Please tell us what, if anything, your organization does to train about these issues.
- Please share any anecdotes that illustrate how your organization builds a culture discouraging plagiarism and fabrication and encouraging proper attribution (for instance, discussing a recent plagiarism controversy at a staff meeting).
While you’re at it, if you want to provide help for the definition and response groups, I’d be happy to pass your suggestions along to my colleagues in those groups:
- How would you define plagiarism?
- How would you define fabrication?
- How should journalists and news organizations attribute information they gather?
- Should plagiarism and fabrication always be firing offenses? If not, how should they be punished?
- How should news organizations investigate allegations of plagiarism and fabrication?
- How should news organizations report to their communities about incidents of plagiarism and fabrication or pending investigations?
Thanks for any help you can provide. We’ll be compiling an e-book on these issues, which will be presented at the summit in St. Louis on April 5, the day before the annual ACES conference. Any journalist or journalism educator is welcome to attend. There is no registration fee.
I look forward to sharing your ethics policies and other answers with my colleagues in this effort.
Here are some of my earlier blog posts dealing with plagiarism, fabrication and attribution:
Soon I’ll re-post at least one old post from my old Training Tracks blog relating to plagiarism.
Craig Silverman and Kelly McBride posted a guide on how to handle plagiarism and fabrication allegations. Craig also wrote about warning signs that a young journalist might be developing bad habits and followed that up by addressing the question of why he focused on young journalists. John E. McIntyre wrote about the role of skeptical editors in preventing and detecting plagiarism and fabrication.
What are some other helpful resources relating to plagiarism, attribution and fabrication?