Two ways to deal with plagiarism in media

On the other side of the pond, journalists who plagiarise get sacked. In Sweden, not so much. Reports the Media Drop:

Over the weekend, the Seattle Times announced the resignation of an associate editor and columnist after claims of multiple plagiarism allegations came to light. The Times’ executive editor, Michael Fancher, informed the newspaper’s readers with a front page item on Sunday about the departure of longtime columnist Stephen Dunphy.

Although the Dagens Nyheter plagiarism story has suddenly started to take off here in Sweden, little has actually happened. Michael Moynihan published an editorial in Expressen on Friday (not available online). The story was also covered in Dagens Media, Journalisten, Mymarkup, Dagens PS, Världen Idag and again on Stockholm Spectator.

But Jan Wifstrand, chief editor at Dagens Nyheter, said that “it is not relevant to apologize to readers six months after the mistake was made”.

Michael Fancher, Seattle Times executive editor, had a different opinion. A story by Dunphy that was published in 1997, contained seven paragraphs originally published in the Journal of Commerce in 1996. Another instance happened in April 2000 when Dunphy borrowed paragraphs from the book “About This Life” by Barry Lopez.

“We felt we needed to set the record straight about the 1997 Asia airport story. Last Sunday we published a correction crediting the Journal of Commerce for the seven paragraphs.”

There’s no period of limitation for saying “we made a mistake”.

What did the Seattle Times do to assure its readers that they take plagiarism incidents seriously?

> They published a correction, and then an open letter from the executive director.

> They made their own investigation and examined 25 stories written since 2000.

> A reporter made a further investigation on his own.

> They forced the plagiarist to resign.

> They engaged an independent outsider to to counsel staff and to work with “the Committee on Ethics and Standards in developing new procedures, policies and training about issues of attribution. The committee will develop new checks and balances to provide independent safeguards against plagiarism”.

> They are continuing to examine signs of plagiarism and promised to inform the readers of the results.