When you plagiarize, you violate two of the most important standards we uphold as journalists: honesty and accuracy. This document is to help you understand the Cronkite School’s standard on plagiarism and what is expected of you as a Cronkite student.
Plagiarism consists of using someone else’s words, phrases, sentences or ideas without giving credit. This is true whether you do it intentionally or inadvertently.
Students most often get into trouble when they cut and paste information from the Internet. There are two main ways to avoid this and other kinds of plagiarism:
To use an example: You are writing a story about local reaction to the U.S. build-up of troops in Iraq. During your research, you find the following sentence in a New York Times story:
The decision to increase the American military presence in Iraq is being greeted with a blend of optimism and anxiety among American soldiers and their families, those most directly affected by the change.
You want to use this information in your story, so you:
In general, there are only three circumstances under which a journalist does not have to provide attribution:
Attributing information from press releases:
Press releases are a common way for journalists to get information. A good reporter will use the press release as a starting point, going on to do his own reporting and gathering his own quotes. If you do use information from a press release, however, the rules of attribution apply.
Example: Gov. Janet Napolitano has issued a press release stating that she plans to expand a low-cost state health insurance program to help thousands of middle-class families pay for health care for their children. The press release includes the following quote:
“We owe it to our children to do better,” Napolitano said. “We owe it to their future.”
You have been unable to reach the governor for a quote, so you:
Using email information:
It’s always better to interview someone in person or, if that’s not possible, by phone. In an email interview, there’s the potential that the subject isn’t who he or she says he or she is and the reporter has much less control over the interview. Moreover, the way someone writes something is rarely the way he or she would speak it. In the event that you have no other choice but to do an email interview, you must disclose that fact to your readers.
Example: You are doing a story about an ASU professor who is developing a new, powerful telescope to be used in space. The professor, James Rhoads, is available only through email. You ask him to explain his research and he writes:
The telescope will collect data, hopefully leading to discoveries about the expansion of the universe.
In your story, you:
Attributing information in the text of the story:
It’s important that when you use information from a source in a story, the attribution follows immediately.
Example: You are doing a travel story on Bisbee, Arizona. You find the following information on the Bisbee website:
Old miners’ boarding houses have been refurbished into many charming small bed and breakfast establishments, of which no two are alike. Former saloons are now quaint shops, antique stores or art galleries, cafes and restaurants.
In your story you paraphrase the information: Bisbee is known for old miners’ boarding houses that have been turned into bed and breakfasts and saloons that have become shops, art galleries and eating establishments. You include a textbox with your story that includes the website www.bisbeearizona.com. This is not sufficient. You must attribute the information to the website immediately after the reference: Bisbee is known for old miners’ boarding houses that have been turned into bed and breakfasts and saloons that have become shops, art galleries and eating establishments, according to the website, Bisbeearizona.com. If you use information from the website later in the story, you must attribute it to the website again.