April 23, 2007

More media players write about Katie Couric's problems

Over the weekend, media writers for the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer the analyzed the Katie Couric problem at CBS. The results were divergent and fascinating. Phil Rosenthal at the Tribune is the first person that I can tell that has interviewed Couric since the plagiarism incident. Her comments seem to have made a sidebar but they don't say too much. Rosenthal's column is mainly Couric speaking to Rosenthal in rather general terms about the difficulties of finding her way at CBS. (it's also at PopMatters, in case you don't want to go through the Tribune's website.)

Here's just the Rosenthal side bar for those of you who don't want to be members at the Tribune.
NEW YORK -- CBS News chief Sean McManus is vowing reforms for CBSNews.com after Katie Couric's Notebook on the site included a plagiarized commentary, mostly written by a since-fired Web producer.

"People have the right to expect, if your name is on a product, that you wrote that," McManus said.

Couric does five commentaries a week with help from a staff.

"I'll usually edit it or I'll say I don't feel comfortable with this or I don't like the way this ends," she said. "So this was a very unfortunate incident because the person who did this is a lovely person, but clearly inexperienced about the tenets of basic journalism."

Couric said her own memories were incorporated, but the fired producer copied mostly from a Wall Street Journal piece.

Couric also contributes to a blog on the CBS News site, which she says she writes on her own.

"The blog can and should be much, much better," McManus said. "It's a great opportunity for Katie to express herself, and I'm not sure any of us have spent enough time focusing on that. It's an area we need to make better and we will."

Two points trouble me about what Couric said . 1) "this was a very unfortunate incident because the person who did this is a lovely person, but clearly inexperienced about the tenets of basic journalism." How could a woman who is 32 years old, has a bachelor's from Wesleyan and a master's degree from Columbia (in journalism? not sure) and who has worked at CNN, and the New York Times and is going to be teaching a class at Media Bistro not be experienced? Altho she looks like Anne Hathaway in a photo, this woman was not the young, naive girl from Devil Wears Prada, but it sounds like that's the angle CBS is taking. If that is the angle, what does it say about CBS News? (ok, and how could Hathaway's character be so naive anyway. she had a journalism degree, too.)

" Couric also contributes to a blog on the CBS News site, which she says she writes on her own." One of the areas that seem disputed is what she is contributing to the blog. It looked to me that the blog post was usually the same as her videocast.

Read Gail Shister's Sunday column in the Philadelphia Inquirer for a different angle. Shister, a long-time media columnist, connects the dots with the problems at the CBS Evening News. The plagairism incident is only one of many problems.

Karen Von Hahn, in the Toronto Globe and Mail, sees the CBS plagarisim issue as part of a bigger problem of attribution in her column in Saturday's issue.

Hamilton Nolan writing in PR News on April 17
posted the essay "Halfway approach to blog was CBS' error." He ends the piece this way: " "The ethical implcations of Couric's secondhand commenatries are murky - people understand that news anchors have writers - but the blogosphere is about forging a more personal connection. A Couric-branded blog should either feature her very own thoughts, or take her name and picture of the masthead."

When the public relations community has problems with plagairism, then you know you have problems.

The only writer that I have found that links how children use libraries with the CBS case has been Gary Rotstein, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in his April 19 article "By the book." He writes: "The association's annual study said the number of visits to public libraries increased 61 percent between 1994 and 2004, to nearly 2 billion." The complete American Library Association report "State of America's Libraries 2007" can be found at the ALA site.

A few pullouts from the press release: "Overall circulation at public libraries in the U.S. rose by 28 percent during the decade, partly driven by significant growth in circulation of children's materials, which grew by 44 percent. Attendance in library programs for children was also up 42 percent for this same period." ... 'The 2007 State of America's Libraries reports that while use of libraries continues to increase and while the general public supports strong funding for libraries, many school library media centers are experiencing budget cuts resulting in staffing reductions, shortened hours, and even closures. The new federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act are cited most frequently as the reasons for these funding cuts."

So, in the end, children are using libraries a lot more and they are reading books. Unfortunately, they may not be able to do this as much as they used at their own school libraries. Maybe Laura Bush, who's advocated for libraries, should see how school libraries fit into the mix of No Child Left Behind.

Finally, here are a few more links to a variety of comments on the plagairism case.
Will Femla on the MSCNBC site.
LibrarySupportStaff.org, who had to read about the Couric plagarism at Drudge (!)
Violet Blue's post on blog "Tiny Nibbles," which can usually get more steamier.
And the website Plagiarism.org. It doesn't mention this case, but sums up what plagiarism is all about.

Hope all the colors on this page aren't too much. Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

GDAEman said...

I see you're still carrying the Couric flag.

Your piece remeinded me of one of my own, which I updated with some of your material.
NYC Mentality. It admittedly goes far afield into Somalia, but ... it's a blog entry, waddya expect?