Thursday, December 30, 2010

The ESPN anchor and journalism: Smart journalists know to paraphrase their stolen material

Will Selva, an ESPNews anchor, has been sidelined after apparently plagiarizing several sentences of an Orange County Register newspaper column on Tuesday night.

Mr. Selva said in a statement that he had made a “horrible mistake” by copy-and-pasting the text of the story and forgetting to then write a script in his own words.

Television networks often rely on newspapers for reporting, but using the same words without attribution is a violation of journalistic standards. The words were originally written by Kevin Ding, who covers the Los Angeles Lakers for the Register.

I don't ever expect this to change, but: I'm still not sure why it's ok to steal reporting but not writing. Often, radios and TV networks at least attribute the report they're stealing -- but not always. And that's a bit of a breach of decorum, but nobody ever really gets fired for it. Steal a phrase or a few sentences, though, and your career is over. Smart journalists know that they can stay employed if they paraphrase somebody else's work.

1 comment:

Notorious Ph.D. said...

And really: How many professional journalists actually "forget" to write a script in their own words?