Plans are taking shape for a summit on plagiarism and fabrication being organized by the American Copy Editors Society.
ACES President Teresa Schmedding called on other national journalism organizations to join ACES in tackling the problem after Poynter’s Craig Silverman wrote his “Journalism’s Summer of Sin marked by plagiarism, fabrication, obfuscation” blog post.
Several journalism educators, researchers and groups have signed up so far, including the Associated Press Media Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, American Society of News Editors, Canadian Association of Journalists, Radio-Television Digital News Association and Local Independent Online News Publishers.
Schmedding asked the journalism organizations to contribute a member to join a team that will explore the problem and produce three white papers: One on causes, another on how to prevent plagiarism and fabrication, and a third on how to handle it once it happens.
Former ACES Executive Committee member Bill Connolly, a retired senior editor of The New York Times and a co-author of its style manual and its policy on ethics and conflicts of interest, will lead the team. Connolly is a founding member of ACES and has served as the president of its Education Fund.
ACES plans to create an e-book available for all journalists that includes these white papers, plus the relevant ethics policies of all the organizations.
“The goal is to put tangible, helpful material in the hands of working journalists,” Schmedding said. “Clearly, just saying ‘it’s bad, don’t do it,’ isn’t working.”
“We’re excited to see journalists from all platforms interested in fighting this problem,” Schmedding said.
Poynter’s Silverman is representing the Canadian Association of Journalists.
The summit will take place at 9 a.m. Friday, April 5, during ACES’ national conference, which runs April 4-6, 2013, at the Hilton St. Louis Ballpark hotel. The summit will be open to any journalist or journalism educator and there is no registration fee.
“The e-book isn’t the end of the project; it’s the beginning,” Schmedding said. “At the summit, we hope to bring managers, researchers, experts, academics and rank-and-file journalists together to see how we can offer additional education and help so we can see these cases disappear. And determine how we can help publicize our efforts to our customers to help restore their faith in the value of professional journalism.
“There are so many gray areas in journalism. We can debate style. We can debate pyramid vs. anecdotal leads vs. SEO-rich summaries. We can debate question heads,” Schmedding said. “But stealing the work of other hard-working journalists or just making up people and facts … there’s no gray there.