Thumbing through any academic institution’s Code of Conduct handbook, certainly there is something listed pertaining to plagiarism.
Usually it is defined along the lines of: taking credit for work done by others, cheating, copying other’s work verbatim without citation.
We have had these rules drilled into our brains since grade school. Evidentially, this literary expectation doesn’t always carry over into the real world of work. On May 17, singer/songwriter and guitarist Nate Cook, of Colorado rock band The Yawpers, posted a status on the band’s Facebook account stating “We hate thieves, so few things piss us off worse than PLAGIARIZING AND STEALING the work of other writers/artists/musicians.”
Cook’s mention of a January review by U-News Managing Editor Mal Hartigan, plagiarized on a small Colorado town’s newspaper’s website, www.lyonsrecorder.com, caught fans attention.
Upon further scrutiny of the piece, readers were able to notice statements taken verbatim from the original work. Not only factual statements, but quirky and whimsical additions were repeated in the later article that could not be coincidental. Prompting fans to submit letters of complaint to the editor’s email address, an apology was issued shortly after by author David McIntyre:
Editor’s Note: David McIntyre, the Lyons Bluesologist, used an article he found online to promote the upcoming appearance of the band, The Yawpers, at Oskar Blues without giving credit to the author, Mallory Hartigan. We at The Lyons Recorder regret this incident, as does Mr. McIntyre.
“Dear Ms. Hartigan,
I cannot apologize enough. I was behind that week and wanted to let people know about the band. I read your article and others, and used much too much of your article in my story. I thought you did a very good job of describing them, but that is no excuse for what I did, and it won’t ever happen again. I had not seen the band live so I didn’t have much to say, but wanted them to get some press for their upcoming show. I will note in next week’s paper your contribution to that story, and again I am very sorry for using your words and not crediting you.
Publisher Joseph Lekarczyk assured all letters of complaint were forwarded to the author, thanking those who brought this matter to his attention. The fraudulent article has since been removed from the Lyons Recording website. This behavior wouldn’t be expected of a journalist well past college years, such as Mr. McIntyre.
The same apology was issued to Hartigan via email, offering an opportunity to write a letter to the publication. Hartigan’s offer to write a letter did not receive a response.
Hartigan, a close friend and colleague at work and school, stated that she was “angry” about the situation. She felt appalled that another journalist would behave so recklessly without considering the consequences of his choices, and try to gloss over the issue with an impersonal apology. I am equally disturbed by the incidents.
Instances of plagiarism often result in lawsuits and more serious consequences. It is not known whether McIntyre still works for The Lyons Recorder, although a recent article with his byline still appears on the newspaper’s website.
Hartigan has not decided whether or not to pursue further action, but is disappointed.
In a warped perspective, this could be considered a nod of approval, that a much older writer, presumably one with more journalism experience, came upon her work and deemed it eligible for copying.
Reputations are easily damaged by plagiarism not only on behalf of the author stealing other’s work without due credit, but also to the parenting publication.
This is an academic lesson best learned by college students as a cautionary tale, a lesson that instructors emphasize repeatedly.
Hopefully after being called out, those who pretend they are above the rules for fair use of intellectual property will have learned their lesson.