Craig Silverman and Kelly McBride


codeofethics

How to handle plagiarism and fabrication allegations

Editors often call us in a panic. A reader or another journalist has shown them credible evidence that one of their writers has plagiarized the work of others or, more rarely, suggested that sources, quotes or other information are fabricated.

The way an organization responds to plagiarism or fabrication can affect its relationship with its community, its staff, and its standing in the profession. The right response can help build or maintain trust. A weak response fuels distrust.

With that in mind, here’s a guide to handling an incident or plagiarism or fabrication.

Before an incident occurs

Review newsroom policy regarding attribution, plagiarism and fabrication. Does one exist? Is it current? Who manages it? If need be, bring it up to date by designating a person or newsroom committee to take ownership. As part of the policy, require that managers meet with team members quarterly to openly discuss standards, answer questions, and gather feedback on ways the policy might need to be amended, updated, or supported by training and communication. Read more

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