The bad news about plagiarism at a Colorado Springs newspaper
Memories of the Blair scandal come full circle today as Hailey Mac Arthur, an intern for the Colorado Springs Gazette, appears to have thrown her young career away after lifting text from the Times in an embarrassment that will certainly leave newspapers everywhere wondering if it is smart for their cash-strapped businesses to rely so heavily on inexperienced and unknown scribes.
As Gazette editor Jeff Thomas writes in this morning's edition:
On Tuesday I learned that The Gazette has published four news stories during the past month that contain passages that are substantially similar, and in some cases identical, to passages in news stories originally published by The New York Times.
For this reason, reporter Hailey Mac Arthur, a college student doing a summer internship in our newsroom, has been dismissed from The Gazette.
Thomas then provides some examples, such as this one from Monday's Gazette:
Gazette, July 6: Few factors set homeless apart from the fortunate
Defining homelessness is politically charged these days. A word used 20 years ago to evoke compassion for the poor is increasingly accepted as shorthand for a grab bag of undesirables - the deranged, disheveled or destitute. Yet the same word applies to the largely unseen women and children who make up more than a third of the homeless in Colorado Springs.
. . . The homeless usually bear their losses in silence, their misfortune unreported and their offenders unknown.
NY Times, Dec. 5, 1999: Labeling the homeless, in compassion and contempt
Defining homelessness is politically charged in New York these days. A word used 20 years ago to evoke compassion for the poor is increasingly accepted as shorthand for a grab bag of undesirables, the deranged, disheveled or destitute. Yet the same word applies to the largely unseen women and children who make up almost two-thirds of homeless shelter residents in New York City.
NY Times, June 29, 2009: Constant fear and mob rule in South Africa slum
In Diepsloot, people usually bear their losses in silence, their misfortune unreported and their offenders unknown.
Thomas adds: Every day, tens of thousands of citizens come to The Gazette and gazette.com in good faith, expecting from us in return that we will report the news as accurately, completely and originally as possible. That good-faith relationship is the foundation of all that makes The Gazette a viable enterprise. Without trust in our journalism, there is no business. For breaching that trust, I apologize to all Gazette readers.
Attempts to reach Mac Arthur were unsuccessful.
Mac Arthur's numerous online profiles, including a blog, have been taken down. However, back-door Google searches of cached versions of her online profiles, such as this one at LinkedIn, show that Mac Arthur, a University of Florida student, also worked as a reporting intern for The Gainesville Sun, columnist for Advantage Publishing, and has freelanced for The Independent Florida Alligator.
No word yet on whether those publications will investigate articles Mac Arthur penned for them.
Photo: Hailey Mac Arthur, via her website.