( – promoted by Colorado Pols)
Should we hold public officials to the same standards as writers when it comes to plagiarism?
I emailed this question to Rocky Mountain News Editor John Temple, who’s now leading an online journalism experiment in Hawaii.
As a veteran editor, he’s obviously thought a lot about plagiarism. In what was, I believe, the last major instance of plagiarism in Denver, the Rocky’s Deputy Editorial Page Editor Thom Beal resigned in 2005 after it was revealed by 5280 Magazine that he lifted wording from a Washington Post article. Beal also copied a phrase from the Daily Howler. Temple wrote an item in the Rocky personally apologizing for “this breach of our trust with you, our readers.”
Temple emailed me:
“I don’t think plagiarism is governed by professional boundaries. We saw what happened when Joe Biden plagiarized Neil Kinnock. Nobody should take somebody else’s words and use them without crediting the original source.”
He’s right, and I don’t know who would disagree with him. It’s clear that plagiarism is wrong, regardless of who commits it.
But how big a deal should be made of it? The immediate fate of a writer who plagiarizes is clear, while the immediate ramifications for a public official or an aspiring one are not.
At least that’s what McInnis seems to be thinking.