Wick Communications

Did I read that somewhere else?

In Ethics on 18 Aug 2016 at 3:49 pm
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This week, in the trials of a local newspaper editor, I’m sharing a story of plagiarism masquerading as marketing.

At issue was a provided column about an upcoming seminar on the topic of aging gracefully. The author was a local therapist who was giving her lecture at the local senior center. The problem came when it read a little … too well. I suppose I could use some software to help me sniff out copy and paste, but my own senses seem to work pretty well. So I copied a snippet into Google and found the same material here. And here. And here. You get the picture.

So I wrote a fairly snotty email to the nice lady who runs the senior center accusing the author of plagiarism and giving her a high-minded lecture on the integrity of our little newspaper and how I won’t run a plagiarized column.

It turns out it is a bit more complicated than I thought. The copy wasn’t so much purloined as it was purchased. The therapist got the marketing material from a national outfit that authorizes its use with its program that she is delivering here. Oh. …

I still don’t like it. I want locally produced copy by local experts, not national marketing stuff. And I still think it’s disingenuous to copy something and put your name at the bottom, even if you bought it fair and square.

In the end, I asked the therapist to take a stab at rewriting it in her own words. It all worked out.

I don’t want anyone to copy and paste something and present it as her own words in my newspaper, and I suspect you don’t either. This week I learned that sometimes, as in this instance, the motives are honorable even if the end results are questionable.



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