plagiarism in action

With the Internet making your work as a blogger open for the world to see, it’s hard to track if someone has cribbed your content unless someone else informs you or you stumble upon it by accident.

It’s not a good feeling when you do. First comes indignation, a slow, burning feeling from the nape of your neck up to your ears. Then comes anger which winds down to frustration and exasperation – “What can I do?”

Well, in this case, I can do something about a case of plagiarism I’ve discovered. The sad and sorry part of it is, the plagiarism was committed by a reporter at the same newspaper where I am a columnist – the Manila Standard-Today.

In reporter Jenniffer B. Austria’s (yes, she has the same first name I do, but different spelling) front-page story about the Philippine Racing Club’s partnership with Ayala Land to develop the old Santa Park racetrack, she lifted the last four paragraphs of her story from my blog post of 2008 about the track.

Compare the last four paragraphs of her story for the Saturday-Sunday Feb. 26-27, 2011 issue of MST, as it appeared online:

…with the first three paragraphs of my blog post of 2008:

The only changes Ms. Austria did to the lifted paragraphs were to change the tense from present to past, and to transpose the first line from the first paragraph from the beginning to the end. Other than that, she used them as-is.

I have brought this issue up with the opinion page editor, Ms. Adelle Chua, who apologized in behalf of the desk and said she will inform the front-page editor and “Cocktales” columnist Mr. Vic Agustin, who, we are sure, will not be happy to hear about this. I assured Ms. Chua, who is my editor and my boss as well, as I am one of MST’s opinion columnists, that I do not blame the desk in any way for this fiasco. I know how harried editors are and reporters are trusted to adhere to basic journalism principles such as “Do not plagiarize” and “If quoting from a source verbatim, credit the author”.

On the right side of my blog are sidebars. Towards the bottom is this: “All rights reserved. Linking to this site is permitted, but ask for permission to re-use the materials here.” The proper thing to do is ask for permission or at least give attribution. I put much thought and effort into my pieces, into the craft of writing, and it is not fair when others take credit for my own hard work.

To plagiarists: Don’t copy – it is a mark of laziness and intellectual dishonesty, even incompetence because you can’t be bothered to do your own research or write your own couple of paragraphs. Plagiarism is stealing. It’ll take only a couple of quote marks and a sentence or two to make the proper attribution that will keep you from shame and embarrassment, because if you’re caught, there are sources – like myself – who will not hesitate to lay bare your plagiarism for all the world to see.

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5 Comments on plagiarism in action

  1. Bea
    27 February 2011 at 12:54 pm (3325 days ago)

    Gad, anobear! Didn’t she know you also write for the Manila Standard? I’ve had my blog entries (DVD reviews at the actually plagiarized by online stores, no less, but at least I don’t know them or work in the same establishment. Kaloka lang ha.

  2. JennyO
    27 February 2011 at 8:54 pm (3325 days ago)

    New twist to the story: my editor Adelle conveyed this matter to MST’s front-page editor Vic Agustin (columnist of “Cocktales”). He said he was the one who ordered the reporter to get background. He just shrugged the matter off. Now it makes me wonder if he was the one who told her that it’s okay not to attribute. The managing editor Mon Tomeldan saw it differently and said that it was indeed plagiarism BECAUSE MY OWN WORK WAS USED WORD FOR WORD.

    Since Mr. Agustin, who directly supervised Ms. Austria, is not going to take any action on this, I will be sending a formal letter of complaint to him and the other people on the editorial board. In any case, I have blogged about it already and maybe the story will get around.

  3. JennyO
    28 February 2011 at 10:57 pm (3324 days ago)

    Update: I received info that apparently it was one of the sub-editors who, told to add background to the story, inserted the paras from my blog, NOT THE REPORTER. In that case, if confirmed, I might owe her an apology after all. And I will have to take back what I said in my blog about my not blaming the desk, because it seems the desk is to blame! Parang Facebook ito, mga friends, “it’s complicated” na!

  4. dudaymd
    1 March 2011 at 10:44 pm (3323 days ago)

    As a journalist, the reporter has to know that if she is using another person’s words in an article with her name on the tagline, it is her responsibility to attribute that part to her source. Otherwise, its just plain stealing.

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