News next: a journalism teacher's diary

March 6, 2010

Stop, thief, continued

Gerald Posner's Facebook photo

When award-winning writer Gerald Posner admitted that he had plagiarized a substantial part of his story about a sensational murder case from the Miami Herald, he blamed the World Wide Web.

The core of my problem was in shifting from that of a book writer – with two years or more on a project – to what I describe as the “warp speed of the net.”

That’s like a carpenter blaming his hammer when he hits his thumb.

Here’s how Posner describes his working methods, the methods he says made him an “accidental plagiarist.”

For the Beast articles, I created master electronic files, which contained all the information I developed about a topic – that included interviews, scanned documents, published articles, and public information. I often had master files that were 15,000 words, that needed to be cut into a story of 1,000 to 1500 words.

In the compressed deadlines of the Beast, it now seems certain that those master file were a recipe for disaster for me. It allowed already published sources to get through to a number of my final and in the quick turnaround I then obviously lost sight of the fact that it belonged to a published source instead of being something I wrote.

(more…)

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January 5, 2010

An experiment in teaching and learning

Filed under: None — Bernard L. Stein @ 2:12 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Though no one can predict the future in detail, it is likely that at some point in my students’ lifetime, newspapers, magazines, television, and radio as we now know them will have migrated from the printing press and the airwaves to the World Wide Web.

I’m an old-fashioned newspaperman trying to learn new ways and hoping my students will help me. As I show them the fundamentals of reporting and writing news, together we’ll practice enhancing our story-telling with the tools the Web makes available, incorporating photography, audio, video and interactive features into our work.

I’ll use this blog to share ideas and to keep track of successes and pitfalls.

I’ve stolen some ideas from a former colleague, Cindy Rodriguez, whose students at NYU published their classwork on individual blogs. (To my students: Note that a hyperlink is one of the simplest but most effective interactive devices, allowing the writer to acknowledge the work of others and to offer illustrations and expanded explanations without bogging the text down.)

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