Plagiarism. It’s the scarlet letter in the world of journalism. As a graduate student at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, it’s an atrocity you’re warned never to commit, both in school and in the “real world.”
So, considering the dire consequences of plagiarism, it’s bemusing to see a fellow graduate student get ripped-off by a “big time” reporter.
Take a look at the opening few graphs of an article on stimulus money and dinner cruises by my colleague, Ryan Craggs:
Certain words strike fear into the hearts of Americans: Osama bin Laden. Anthrax. The Oklahoma City bombing. al-Qaeda. Hijackers. Dinner cruises.
Apparently that’s what the Department of Homeland Security thinks.
Sure, a few words are slightly different, but the overall message, delivery and focus is exactly the same. The rest of Bartosik’s article is merely a truncated version of Craggs’ piece, with no sign of any original reporting.
How did this happen? How did this slip past the NBC editors? Bartosik even linked to the original article at one point, and yet nobody caught that he practically lifted the entire piece. Shouldn’t he have linked every word of the article back to Medill?
There’s plenty of talk about the future of journalism, that the industry will die off, etc etc. Well, looks like things have gotten so bad that those of journalism’s present are plagiarizing the industry’s future. Looks like the future’s doing a pretty good job, but I’d be more worried about the present.
UPDATE: Matt Bartosik got in touch with me to give me some information on the piece and correct some of the mistakes I wrote. Here is what Bartosik wrote to me, in full:
Leor,Thank you for this opportunity to respond to your accusations.First, it should be made clear that I am a freelancer with NBC Chicago. I am not an employee, and therefore anything I say is my own opinion and belief. I do not speak on behalf of NBC Chicago.With that in mind, I have to say I was a bit amused (and flattered?) when you called me a “big-time” reporter. I’ve never been to NBC Tower, and only 2 or 3 people there would know who I am. As I have joked with friends, I am low man on the totem pole. In fact, I’m not even technically on the totem pole at all.I’m a “between blogs” blogger who has been freelancing with NBC Chicago a little over a year now. However, I’m still a bit inexperienced when it comes to political topics. The dinner cruise story that I wrote was definitely a political one, and I attempted to write it in a completely neutral manner.This was a mistake. I should have added a more forward and therefore more creative approach to the subject at hand. Then, it wouldn’t have come across as an sterile rehashing of facts.And I have no one to blame for the opening lines but myself. Again, I’ve written hundreds of articles, but this unfortunately was not one of the better ones.It was never my intention to plagiarize or “get away” with anything. As you noted, I did link to the original piece, but those links should have been more prominent. The NBC story has been changed to better reflect the original reporting.If it comes across that I “stole” something, I apologize. That was never my objective.–Matt Bartosik