April 12, 2007

Couric does not admit essay was plagiarized

The way the Katie Couric plagiarism issue has been playing out is fascinating. Pundits are ready to spear Don Imus, but at least he has acknowledged and apologized for his vile comments. Couric is the managing editor of her program, but she has yet to say that anyone on her staff has done anything wrong. She has not acknowledged that she didn't have the 'thoughts' she was supposed to have when she read her notebook video blog, "In the Stacks," on April 4. She is completely silent. Maybe this is how CBS thinks the story will be buried.

A few women bloggers have thought that reporting Couric's plagiarism is symptomatic of a male dominated culture going after the first woman who has anchored the evening news. This is not true. Couric is a journalist and should be held up to a journalist's ethical standards, which are the same for men and women. I think women who hide behind that kind of feminism don't quite get it.

Why didn't other people who are interested in books, libraries, and children wonder where Couric got her information? Radio and TV journalists know that their stories evaporate into the media ether the moment they're aired -- for most of the people listening. So maybe no one else thought to check out her facts. Wouldn't a librarian somewhere -- even at the American Library Association -- want to at least read the study so they could be prepared respond to it?

My husband says that no one cared to bother to check out Couric because everyone is just listening and reading their own stuff. Okay, we're all guilty of that. But was no one else in this case curious about where information is coming from, who is gathering it, and who is interpreting it? That is a bigger issue here.

Also, did the CBS producer think that she could get away with plagiarizing because the Couric video blog is not aired on national network television? Instead, it's sent out to affiliates and plays on some radio stations as well. Those of us in the heart of the heart of the country only count when it comes to ratings..?

When I was editing an alumni magazine, we had to spend hours proofreading and checking material. It's critical that no one's name is misspelled. But occassionaly there was some grammar error by mistake. On a rare occassion, I'd hear from an older alumni who would call me to task for that error. Maybe all those eagle-eyed readers are fading and being replaced by hecklers, rather than thoughtful critics or curious media consumers.

My experience on print publications is that people rarely ever write to praise articles in an issue. Praise would be nice, too.

So, I'll commend Couric for pursuing the network anchor position. I just wish she had the journalist's sensibility and writing ability that I once thought was part of the job description.


GDAEman said...

Great Poster (flower, War...) Is it the same one that got the Smothers Brothers in trouble?

Tell your husband I read your commentary. I think the vast majority of the people "get it." Like you. Now it's time we joined forces to change things for the better (the two parties aren't gonna do it for us, that's for sure).

Here's my take on the Couric straw that seems to be breaking the corporate media's back (along with CBS's Imus):

Couric: Faux Journalism.

greebs said...

Well said. My version was simply "this is pathetic."

When it comes down to it, anyone making $15 million as a journalist should really be doing his or her own writing. That's a hard argument to work around.


GDAEman said...

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I have a friend who can get YOU in too. All you have to do is... well, we better talk about this off-line, if you know what I mean ;-)