About This Course
Plagiarism and fabrication are among the most serious ethical breaches in journalism. In addition to ethical concerns, plagiarism and fabrication can also cause legal trouble.
Yet, no matter how high an organization's standards may be, year after year, credibility-destroying scandals surface. Some of the most respected news organizations in the country and around the world have been caught up in plagiarism or fabrication scandals. These include The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The New York Times, the Guardian, CNN, the New Yorker and the BBC. No news organization can regard itself as immune. These scandals damage and destroy both promising new careers in journalism and veteran journalists' legacies. All too many plagiarists and fabricators have deliberately misled their editors, producers and audiences.
Yet, for those who wish to have no association between their work and plagiarism or fabrication, avoiding the violations requires an understanding of how little it takes to cross the line. Sometimes, journalists or editors disagree about what constitutes plagiarism and fabrication. Individuals can publish what turns out to be plagiarized work unintentionally, putting their reputations at risk. Journalists and other authors seeking to boost their audience or improve the visual or audio quality of their work can, without meaning to, stray into fabrication with heavy-handed edits, re-enactments or too-vigorous retouching. Authors relying on contributors can be swept into plagiarism or fabrication scandals through the association of their names with works that incorporate plagiarized or fabricated elements.
The course will educate journalists, authors, editors, news producers, students, educators and news consumers about what plagiarism and fabrication are, why they are so toxic and how to avoid them. This course also will help editors and producers, as well as educators, detect and root out plagiarism and fabrication.
Geanne Belton is a professor of journalism at City University of New York's Baruch College and CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a faculty associate at The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Geanne directs the Harnisch Journalism Projects, specializes in online education, and teaches news and digital literacy, journalism and media law and ethics. An attorney and journalist (previously writing under the byline Geanne Rosenberg), Geanne is a graduate of Columbia University's Schools of Journalism and LAw (where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar), and Bryn Mawr College.
Ruth S. Hochberger
Ruth S. Hochberger, a lawyer and journalist, was editor-in-chief of The New York Law Journal for 12 years. She has taught reporting and media law and ethics to undergraduate and graduate students for the past 14 years at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, New York University, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and New York Law School. A graduate of Barnard College, she received a J.D. from Boston College Law School, where she was on the Law Review.
Contributor: Jane E Kirtley
Jane Kirtley is the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of MInnesota, and directs The SIlha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law. She was Executive Director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C., for 14 years. Before that, she practiced law in New York and Washington D.C., and was a reporter for newspapers in Indiana and Tennessee.