Please weigh in with your thoughts on the latest plagiarism scandal to hit the industry.
My gut reaction is I find Sari Horwitz pathetic. An award winning veteran journalist copying and pasting whole sections of articles and adding them as her own is simply sad. It questions all her past work. Has she done this before when deadlines were tough?
With the new age of technology and everything being published instantly and timely it has added a new kind of pressure for journalists but this pressure shouldn’t be some excuse to plagiarize. Plagiarism is one of the most unethical thing any journalist can commity, especially when a journalist with the skills such as Horwitz decides to clip whole paragraphs from other news sites. Horwitz has won her Pulitzer prizes from shooting stories including the tragedy at Virginia Tech. She has the knowledge and background to work on stories such as the Arizona/Grifford shooting.
Another problem I have with this story is that the Washington Post just suspended Horwitz for three months with no pay. THREE MONTHS! This woman should’ve been fired; she definitely would’ve been if she was a rookie entering the Journalism field right out of college. Plagiarism is morally wrong and completely unethical no matter what the situation the journalist is in. She is setting an awful example for future journalists such as me. So is the Washington Post. It’s like saying the start athlete of a team is caught using drugs. The school suspends him for three games and then he is allowed to return. But if the athlete who struggles on the field is caught doing drugs the school might just kick him off the team. Creditentials or not, Horwitz should’ve been fired and make herself into a great example of journalism going wrong. Instead, she will be writing again in no time.
The first word that comes to mind with the Sari Horwitz plagiarizing scandal is “lazy.” The reason for choosing lazy is because there were numerous things Horwitz could have done to avoid this entire mess. Instead of copying the quotes from the Arizona Republic word for word, she could have paraphrased sections of the article.
It is also disturbing that a 27-year veteran could do something so damning and wrong. One of the first things any journalist learns is to never, under any circumstances copying another individuals work without giving proper attribution. In the world of journalism plagiarizing is, quite simply stealing. Your taking the result of another reporter’s hard work and making it off to be your own.
I’m extremely surprised she only received a three month suspension. If she had not won three Pulitzer prizes and numerous other awards she would have been fired on the spot. It just goes to show how those higher up on the totem pole are seemingly above everyone else. What Sari Horwitz was awful and she should have been fired for he decisions.
What I find difficult to understand concerning this situation would be that someone capable enough of winning a Pulitzer Prize is also capable of such negligence. In the article it describes in detail her digital “copy and paste” in Microsoft Word. It seems very hard to believe that a prized journalist wouldn’t predict that the cheating methods of a 6th grader wouldn’t be discovered through a national newspaper. Not only was this surprising, but the fact that her punishment is so weak is also questionable. In my opinion she should have been terminated. It’s an obvious argument, but plagiarism is blatantly inexcusable for a journalist and Sari Horwitz felt it acceptable twice in one week. While she may be an awarded writer, that has no correlation with her abandonment of all of the standards and ethics of her field. Now it seems that if one journalist can get away with it, who is to say that others won’t? Since their jobs aren’t threatened, why not copy and paste an article that they probably would have pretty much written themselves anyway? I mean, the other writers just happened to get there first. If Horwitz was more severely punished, perhaps there wouldn’t be this risk of a slippery slope type situation.
After reading the first half of this article I had to stop and ponder for a few seconds. What puzzles me is that Sari Horwitz’s plagiarized work was published on the post website and then in the newspapers after. Now I know humans make mistakes but it seems as though no one even questioned her work; maybe no one expected this veteran to do such a thing. Shouldn’t every journalistic organization have people who specifically check for plagiarism? Personally I don’t think you should take anything for granted and check the work of all. Another thing that caught my attention was her punishment of a slap on the wrist three months suspension. Really? They claim that plagiarism is such a “cardinal sin” but barely gave a legitimate punishment. Horwitz violated the journalism code of ethics and I feel like she should have been terminated. Even under heavy deadlines I do not think what Horwitz is acceptable. Plagiarism is cheating and cheaters should never win if it can be helped.
There are two things that are shocking about this story, first that a seasoned reporter would do such a stupid thing, and second that she received only 3 weeks suspension for doing it. Copying and pasting a sentence is bad enough, in this case she copy and pasted several paragraphs. And this isn’t a rookie reporter, she’s a veteran journalist of 25 years with three Pulitzer Prizes. It seems like such lazy reporting for someone of her level, going online and copying notes from another article. Both she and the Post call it inexcusable and a cardinal sin of journalism, but in her case she is being excused for doing it. The three week suspension is very surprising, given that readers will now call into question the credibility of anything she writes in the future, and this also affects the Post’s credibility. This shows the one of the dangers of using the web for research, it is very easy to go online and find information you need and just copy and paste it into her notes as she did. But journalists have to be very careful when doing this because proper attribution must be given to everything.
As said on Tuesday, the fact that this reporter is a prize winning veteran of journalism and received only a three month suspension is the focus of this case. However, after reading this Post article, I just learned she plagiarized for not one but two articles written on March 4th and March 10th. She copied paragraphs for both from the same paper, the Arizona Republic. The paragraphs copied were two for one article and ten for the other totaling twelve. The amount of plagiarism appears to be extreme, especially considering Horwitz decided to copy the same paper for a second time six days after doing it once. Three months? She should be terminated from the Washington Post. If she simply fabricated an article from her imagination at least that would’ve been original, but plagiarism is the lowest of the low. We all deal with pressure and there are more honorable ways to fail.
Electronically cutting and pasting material directly from the Republic? Is she serious? Even in middle school and high school, I knew not to do such things on paper even if I had a slight chance of getting away with it. But how much pressure was she really under to make so far of a leap as that just to make a deadline? That’s definitely dishonest for a journalist to do. I’m not sure if dishonest is even the word the cuts it for describing her actions. And to be only suspended for 3 months without pay? That’s hardly a punishment for a journalist. I thought that it was important for good journalists to maintain a good reputation, and this sort of “cardinal act of sin” in the journalism word is enough to send a good reputation crashing. She sort of downgraded the integrity of The Post, and for The Post allowing her to return with such minor punishment, it makes me question the quality of the paper. It also makes me question how much pressure she could have been under- was she going to get fired if she didn’t complete the story on time? Apparently not, because even when she copied and pasted from another journalist’s writings, she still didn’t get fired.
Sarah Horwitz committed a crime in the journalism ethics world. In the real world, she’s spent 27 years at the Washington Post and has shared two Pulitzer Prizes. If it were someone without those credentials would they have been fired? Probably.
Maybe the story is more about the fact she was only suspended three months. If that is the case, the problem lies more with the way people respond to her punishment, rather than the punishment itself. Does the fact that she was only fired for three months reflect back upon the Wasington Post’s feelings towards plagiarism? My first thought is no way, but their actions don’t back up their code of ethics. I wonder what would happen if a new journalist was caught making the same mistake.
Horwitz’s career as a writer is certainly questioned now, especially when considering her past pieces–could those also be plagiarized? In her statement Wednesday she said, “Under the pressure of tight deadlines, I did something I have never done in my entire career.” For the interest of all parties, I hope she is telling the truth.
It is difficult to understand why Horwitz didn’t simply attribute the Arizona Republic’s story and paraphrase the information. It seems like a simple case of laziness. And I agree on the point that Horwitz received less of a punishment than if a reporter from The Arizona Republic, for example, had plagiarized from a Post article.
Even when plagiarism isn’t the issue, journalists still suffer from lazy reporting that is often attributed to “tight deadlines” and lack of coverage of news from different global regions/environmental issues that is often attributed to lack of resources/reporters/money or it’s just not what the public is interested in hearing about supposedly.
Something as extreme as plagiarism is mainly due to pure, lazy reporting. But other issues with reporting or even finding journalists to follow “under-covered” news issues seems to have to do with the fact that journalism isn’t considered as much of a priority to fund. Also it is difficult for smaller news ventures that are committed to quality reporting to access an audience, which is monopolized by huge news agencies like Fox news, CNN, NYtimes, etc.
After reading this article, the first thing I think is, stupid. Sari Horwitz is a decorated journalist for the Post. She should know better than to steal someone’s work. Her entire career has been made up of tight deadlines. After so many years, you would think that she would understand how to take charge in such situations. By plagiarizing, she is showing that she is lazy, and that she feels since she is so well decorated with awards, that she is able to get away with anything. Also, it seems as if she thought since she was from the Post and the paragraphs she stole were from another, not so well known paper, that she would be able to get away with it. In my opinion, I do not believe this is the first time doing this.
As a student in journalism, hearing about plagiarism conflicts make me analyze every article I read. This is not the first time a well known journalist was caught plagiarizing and I am sure it will not be the last. When issues like this happen it just motivates me to be a better journalist and to never allow myself to stoop as low as to copy someone else’s work with giving them credit.
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