Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world

7/19/2006

NRO Plagiarism

Filed under: General,Media — Dangerous Dan @ 2:54 pm

So I was doing some reading on Title IX and I was looking at past articles that National Review Online has had on the subject. Among the results, I came across one by Tim Powers from 10/28/03 and another one by Eric Pearson from 11/17/04. Let me know if you see any eerie similarities between the two.

Powers:
This practice doesn’t benefit women in any way, mind you, it is just about making the numbers fit.

Pearson:
This practice doesn't benefit women in any way, mind you — it is just about making the numbers fit.

It gets worse.

Powers:
And the reforms were as basic as can be. One vague provision already a part of the law says that schools can comply by providing teams based on the level of interest. So, the commission suggested, we should find some clear ways to measure how interested men and women are in athletics.

Pearson:
But the reforms are as basic as can be. One vague provision already a part of the law says that schools can comply by providing teams based on the level of interest. So shouldn't we find some clear ways for schools to measure how they can reasonably meet the interest of men and women who want to participate in athletics?

Here are the good ones.

Powers:
But anyone who thinks that the college coaches who started this reform effort will be discouraged by politicians or the gender police ought to think again. We practically invented the word tenacity and our only special interest is in seeing that all athletes get a chance to live their competitive dreams.

Pearson:
But anyone who thinks that the college coaches who started this reform effort will be discouraged by politicians or the gender police ought to think again. We practically invented the word tenacity and our only special interest is in seeing that all athletes get a chance to live their competitive dreams.

And this:

Powers:
So let’s make it clear, once and for all: Everyone agrees that Title IX is a good law and that men and women should have equal opportunity to participate in athletics. The problem is with the unreasonable gender quota — which is clearly causing schools to cap and cut men’s teams. President Bush ran on a promise to, "leave no child behind." Isn't this ideal woven into the fabric of the American Dream and shouldn't we, who call ourselves educators, be about securing this promise rather than limiting opportunities for students to pursue their dreams?

I believe firmly that there is a middle ground where we can craft a solution. Coaches, parents and athletes are there. Women like Cynthia Cooper and the University of Maryland’s Debbie Yow are there.

Pearson:
So let's make it clear, once and for all: Everyone agrees that men and women should have equal opportunity to participate in athletics. The problem is the unreasonable gender quota, which is clearly causing schools to cap and cut men's teams. President Bush ran on a promise to "leave no child behind," an idea woven into the fabric of the American dream. Educators should be working to secure this promise rather than limiting opportunities for students.

I believe firmly that there is a middle ground, and that a solution is possible. Coaches, parents, and athletes are there. Women such as the WNBA's Cynthia Cooper and the University of Maryland's Athletic Director, Debbie Yow, are there.

That's some pretty bold plagiarism, especially considering that Pearson copied from a piece on the same subject from the same site. I sent an e-mail to NRO about this and I will see how they respond. Being a devoted reader of the site and a lapsed subscriber to NRODT, this is dismaying.

It appears that both Powers and Pearson are associated with the College Sports Council with Powers as a member and Pearson as executive director. Thus, I imagine they know each other and Powers may even have helped Pearson. That, however, doesn't allow Pearson to just copy and paste Powers's words without credit. Pearson should have quoted and credited Powers, should have listed Powers as a co-author, or merely should have let it come under Powers's byline. Whatever the method, NRO essentially reprinted an article.

7 Comments »

  1. As a teacher, I always get a giddy feeling when I bust a plagiarist. Did you get a sense of gotcha! when you found it out? It would be interesting to know that you brought down someone due to plagiarism.

    I now make my students submit their work to turnitin.com, a service that compares their work to works on the internet as well as a large database. Perhaps that might be a good idea here.

    Comment by Burton — 7/19/2006 @ 4:57 pm

  2. It was actually a little depressing since I like NRO. I liked catching the guy, yeah, he’s an idiot. I just didn’t like that NRO had let it slip through. Sure, the site publishes 10-20 pieces every week day, but it’s supposed to be a professional outfit and, c’mon, it was plagiarized from their own site!

    Hmmm… I haven’t come across turnitin.com before. Oooo… I know I could’ve caught some people about whom I had suspicions, but I couldn’t pin down from where they were copying.

    Comment by Dangerous Dan — 7/19/2006 @ 10:02 pm

  3. National Review online had a recent problem with plagerism by one of its former writers and they were pretty mad when they found out about it. Ben Domenech was a former writer for them who was caught as a plagerist after he started blogging for the Washington Post.

    Comment by Pete The Elder — 7/20/2006 @ 10:04 pm

  4. I remember that. I still haven’t heard anything from NRO. I sent it to their general address, which probably has some lackey who goes through and deletes most of it. If I still haven’t received a reply by tomorrow afternoon, I’ll try sending an e-mail to K-Lo and Goldberg since they seem to be in charge of the online operation.

    Comment by Dangerous Dan — 7/20/2006 @ 10:37 pm

  5. I have corresponded with Jim Geraghty who does the TKS blog on NRO a couple times before and he was pretty quick to reply and very polite, although he did link to me first. He is not an editor however, so K-lo and Goldberg are the best to write to about this.

    You could always post it on Daily Kos or some other left wing site and be sure to get a response!

    My guess is that it is lazy journalism and the author recycled the piece, possibly with the original author’s consent. Either that or they both copied from the same press release or other materials from some third party. You might want to try googling some of the plagiarized phrases to see if a third party originally wrote it.

    Unfortunately it is pretty standard practice in journalism to copy a press release or use other material from a third party without acknowledging that you did so. For some reason this is not considered plagerism, partly because the original authors are fine with being copied because they just want the information to get out and do not care about credit. They may even want the information to look like many other people share the idea without getting it from them. Also, because it is so widespread a practice that many news organizations would shut down if they had to stop relying on third party produced content.

    Comment by Pete The Elder — 7/22/2006 @ 9:48 am

  6. Unfortunately it is pretty standard practice in journalism to copy a press release or use other material from a third party without acknowledging that you did so.

    Pete, under a normal interpretation of ‘pretty standard practice,’ this has to be false. The handful of media outlets I worked for made explicit that cut & pasting press release copy is a no-no. Also, when working on a story, I have never noticed identical or even similar writing in a press release and its corresponding tv, radio, or newspaper coverage. Avoiding the temptation of stealing from a press release is a staple of journalism 101 and journalism ethics courses. Perhaps you have first-hand experience of media outlets where this is acceptable. But saying it’s ‘standard practice’ is an overstatement.

    This NRO case seems very preventable. So the NRO accepted an opinion piece from the College Sports Council — an organization that itself traffics mainly in press releases. That’s a bit lazy and uninteresting (“wow, a lobby group has reasons for its stance”), but OK the first time around. And it’s fine to cover Title IX again less than a year later, since there was a (weak) news tag of almost-reform around that time. But why go to the same well this time? And once you do, shouldn’t you make sure that the piece doesn’t rehash the first piece? I don’t even mean literally rehash, as is actually the case — I just mean retrod the same arguments, make the same tired points. There’s a lot of bad editing going on with this.

    Comment by Sean — 7/25/2006 @ 10:45 am

  7. …and when I say ‘less than a year later,’ I mean ‘a little more than a year later.’

    Comment by Sean — 7/25/2006 @ 10:51 am

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