Archive for December, 2014

Hell in Paradise FlatHow many words can you lift from another writer’s work before it becomes plagiarism?

I raised the question in a correspondence this week with a columnist who use a lot of identical and similar words from a magazine article. And I raised them with the columnist’s editor, who rejected the magazine writer’s accusation that he had been plagiarized.

The magazine writer, Dan Carlinsky, called the matter to my attention after I had written some posts about plagiarism by Fareed Zakaria. I was reluctant to take up the case. My plate is full with a variety of personal and professional matters, and I’m reluctant to start becoming a plagiarism cop. But I decided to hear him out, and the editor’s dismissive response helped me decide that I needed to blog about this.

I take plagiarism and attribution seriously, and the editor, publisher and corporate executive Carlinsky dealt with in this case didn’t appear to take the matter seriously. (more…)

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Rolling StoneInvestigating an allegation of rape is one of the most difficult things for a reporter (or police detective or prosecutor) to do.

I’m not going to dwell here on the Rolling Stone reporting about an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity party. Lots of excellent journalists have commented on Rolling Stone’s faulty reporting and the related issues, and I’ll link to some of the pieces I have seen at the end of this piece.

I will say this about the Rolling Stone story: If men from the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity didn’t rape “Jackie,” the Rolling Stone’s central source, the story irresponsibly smeared any innocent men in the fraternity. If “Jackie” was raped, the story irresponsibly gave millions of rape survivors one more reason not to tell their stories. Rape is the most underreported violent crime in our society and the greatest tragedy of this journalistic travesty is that the outcry over the Rolling Stone story will undoubtedly cause some rape survivors to keep the crimes against them secret, out of fear that they won’t be believed. When writing about rape, journalists have to get their facts right. Being wrong in either direction is grossly irresponsible.

My point here, though, is not to write one more commentary on the sins of the Rolling Stone. I am writing to provide advice for journalists writing about rape and other intimate and/or traumatic topics. (more…)

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My latest post on the INMA Culture Change blog asks 8 questions about your organization’s willingness to risk failure, and what you’ve learned from your failures.


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