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Plagiarism prevention is learned early at the School of Journalism

University of Photography

Building a “front end” system of originality helps prevent plagiarism and fabrication problems in the newsroom, School of Journalism director Stephen Burgard told a New England Newspaper conference, October 10, at the Crowne Plaza, Natick. Burgard was a panelist on “Preventing plagiarism: Building a culture of originality in your newsroom.” Other panelist were Fred Bayles, Director of the State House Program, Boston University School of Communications, Paul Pronovost, Editor-in-Chief, Cape Cod Times, Rick Holmes, Opinion Editor, MetroWest Daily News. The panel was moderated by Jim Franklin of the Boston Globe.

He noted that Northeastern University journalism students get lessons in doing their own research as soon as they arrive on campus. This training is followed up in later courses, by studying various media ethics codes and incidents of invention and plagiarism that have embarrassed the news industry.

Such classroom instruction is important, Burgard said, because students can consider the “big picture” and reflect on their experiences on co-op. The deadline-driven newsroom, he noted, is in the business of “now” with little time to reflect on the context.

His aim: to build a positive culture of honesty for future journalists because when a case of plagiarism or invention occurs, it’s “too late” and a media organization can only do “damage control.”

By William Kirtz, Professor, School of Journalism