Opinion

From the Editor: Plagiarizing the competition


Recently I wrote a story for the North Coast Citizen that I was pretty proud of, I exercised my due diligence in securing original interviews, accredited photos and citable sources and wrote what I felt was an original piece.
Imagine my surprise a few days later when one of the more prominent news sources in Tillamook County decided to lift a great deal of my work and put it in an article without attributing the fact that a good portion of the information in the article was originally written by me.
Now, I won’t name names here but a part of me wants to at least explain my interpretation of the event and the subsequent fallout that befell afterward. You see, the founder of the opposing publication was someone I respected a great deal, as did the community, and was even given my very first publishing opportunity as a young teenager by her so many years ago.
When I checked my daily Facebook feed and saw an article posted by the publication that used some terminology that I myself took the extra effort with (in regards to Japanese language translation), well, suffice to say it caught my attention.
It’s one thing to use an official name translation, even if I did the footwork on that topic, but as I read I found the article exemplified something else entirely. This wasn’t a lifted quote here and there, this wasn’t a used proper name, there was body-copy that was subtly reworded, and other parts that were flat-out copied from my original creative work. This was plagiarism.
I took the topic to my newspaper’s publisher, also known as my boss, and held a printed version of each story, theirs, and mine complete with highlighted areas of copy that was the same, word for word. It was pretty darn obvious.
My publisher took the matters into his own hands and sent the other publication a strongly worded message asking them to either credit me where it was due, or to completely remove the copied copy. To their credit, they did the bare minimum, they removed the quotes that were word for word, though they chose to ignore the examples of body-copy they lifted.
What I didn’t expect from the situation was that I was to be the recipient of an equally contentious message that called to light a number of issues they assert we’ve done in the past. Grammatical errors, misspellings, etc… the message called into questions not only my credibility, but the newspaper’s as well. Okay, that’s fine and dandy, I went to art school, I can take a critique, but the tone was highly contentious when all I wanted was credit where credit was due.
Though I was perturbed, I decided to drop it, in the realm of local news we are essentially the Goliath to their David.
Fast forward to Christmas day, again, I checked my Facebook feed like any good Millennial and a very interesting post caught my eye. It was from the very same opposing publication and it was an update to the original story the debacle revolved around. What caught my attention was the Facebook headline statement they chose to run with the story. Advocating originality and diligent reporting and suggesting that “other sources” can’t be trusted.
This, of course reminded me of how our nation’s current President will often cite “Fake News” when he hears something he doesn’t like. I guess I just never expected that kind of response from this organization, as its roots were steadfast in respectability.
Regardless, I will still do my job, and call out anyone else who’s not willing to do their own.



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