The Pace is to Blame


Mr. Kouwe says he has never fabricated a story, nor has
he knowingly plagiarized. “Basically, there was a minor news story and
I thought we needed to have a presence for it on the blog,” he said,
referring to DealBook. “In the essence of speed, I’ll look at various
wire services and throw it into our back-end publishing system, which
is WordPress, and then I’ll go and report it out and make sure all the
facts are correct. It’s not like an investigative piece. It’s usually
something that comes off a press release, an earnings report, it’s
court documents.”

“I’ll go back and rewrite everything,” he continued. “I
was stupid and careless and fucked up and thought it was my own stuff,
or it somehow slipped in there. I think that’s what probably happened.”


In the coming days, inevitably, The Times will look inward to
ask whether the pace of publishing in the blogs can be sustained given
the level of editorial oversight they obviously need.

The level of … FOR FUCK’S SAKE. The level of editorial oversight they need is to have people writing them WHO DON’T COPY AND PASTE WITHOUT CREDIT.

It’s funny that we’re talking about another NYT plagiarist, because I just gotan e-mail inviting me to a conference about whether old-media values can be sustained in a new-media age, and I think the real question is whether old-media values can be sustained in THE OLD MEDIA.

When you are done with TV news ripping their line-up from the local paper without credit, when you are done with radio hosts talking out their asses, when you are done with plagiarizing and making excuses that, as this douche did, you threw it all into WordPress and then re-reported it (oh, my god, that makes it worse, not better, dipshit), then you can come at me and talk about how my job necessitates you rearranging your ethical framework. The hypocrisy burns us.

Via Doc.


10 thoughts on “The Pace is to Blame

  1. Long ago, when I first worked for a “trade” magazine, we’d see our stuff appearing in the major magazines all the time. Sure, it was possible that the sources had just given the same interview word-for-word, or that the writer had just by chance chosen the same turns of phrase, but then more “respectable” sources would always get a credit.
    There is a solid foundation of ethics in the old media, it’s just never been practiced by the big boys.

  2. Oh, shit, that ain’t the half of it. Check out what the asshat said when heripped off a blog:
    “Things move so quickly on the Web that citing who had it first is something that is likely going away, especially in the age of blogs.”

  3. How much of a break in the pace does it take to write a sentence before the “cut and paste” that says, “The below was taken from on Feb 21, 2012? We are currently working to find more details.”
    Of course, a very long block quote may be questionable regarding copyright. So they could just link to the page.
    For that matter, the news media web pages have been some of the prime forces that protested that deep linking was a violation of copyright. So if they’re against deep linking, they should be able to put a citation / attribution to the original.

  4. Of course, as an academic, you know that there are many services that will take a text and will attempt to find out if it is plagiarized.

  5. Maple, most news organizations are allergic to acknowledging one another at all. It’s a competitive instinct that I don’t think is entirely misplaced, but if your choice is stealing or acknowledging, sheesh, pick the latter.
    And those services and the general nature of search engines are why it blows my mind that anyone thinks he or she can get away with this now. Echoing themes is one thing. Whole blocks of text? It’s too easy to get caught.

  6. Maple: I’m actually sympathetic to the NYT and organizations that don’t catch plagiarizing before it happens. I do some editing, and the last thing I want to have to do is doublecheck content for plagiarism (beyond all the other stuff I have to check). It’s just going to happen sometimes, and the offenders just have to immediately be shot out of a cannon into the Hudson. I’m fine with papers having a baseline level of trust in their writers, if only for efficiency’s sake.
    It’s the lack of attribution, and the trend of treating bloggers as third-class citizens, that infuriates me: the technology makes it easier, NOT harder, to credit people. It’s not just a matter of media ethics, it’s basic fucking decency.

  7. And toquote you, A “FOR THE LOVE OF STEVE IT’S A BIG INTERNET.” There’s no rule that your blog needs a fast (or any!) pace. Write what you want at your own speed, make sure it’s good, and then post it. The pace at my site isone freaking post a week, plus a link roundup on Sundays. If getting it right is priority #1 then spend the goddamned time to get priority #1 right and don’t worry about being scooped by Politico. Don’t like the pace? Set your own. It’s a big internet.

  8. Hi Whet,
    I’d agree with you in regards to the NYT – its a big paper and doesn’t have the few extra minutes to run an article through one of the services.
    I was thinking more in regards to the author. Where were the author’s ethics? And how did he think he was above the law?

  9. What the hell is with all these plagiarists at the NYT? And where the hell are they getting the idea that this is okay, besides that they’re obviously getting away with it. I don’t know about you, but everywhere I’ve gone to school (two top-tier Canadian universities) and everywhere I’ve worked so far, I would have been expelled or fired for ripping off other people’s stuff (plagiarism was an expulsion offence at both those universities; it’s aserious academic charge).
    I vote we all start calling them the NYPT: New York Plagiarising Times. Maybe if that gets around on the blogs they’ll start auditing their writers for a littleintegritas, no?
    That said, having had a big-dog blog rip off one of my streetcar articles and then do a really crappy quarter-assed job of attributing itonly after my publisher breathed some fire down the site owner’s neck (I’m lookin’ atyou, MetroJacksonville!), I’m none too pleased with the general ethical weather hereabouts; it seems to be cloudy with a chance of malfeasance.

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