12 October 2010

Plagiarism: Last Refuge of the Hack In A Hurry?

We have been talking of "cut-and-paste" journalism ever since word processing happened big time. But then, as they say in Hindi, "नक़ल में भी अकल चाहिए" --Nakal mein bhi akal chahiye (You need brains even to copy).
Apparently, the most respected India Today has witnessed a shameful case of two paragraphs being lifted straight out of another article. And the subject matter is Rajnikanth, India's own movie superstar, while the story from which it was lifted is a US-based online magazine, Slate.
Honestly, why could not the writer simply at least paraphrase the wretched insight he/she may have got from Slate? Beats me.
Also a gentle reminder for those who try to steal: You may not violate copyright in all cases, but on the Web, you can be caught out. In fact, I find that my tweets on Twitter are routinely stolen, but what is touching is that my followers come and tell me about what is going on while I am too busy/lazy to care.
I think there are solutions emerging on the Internet to catch violators, but it is sad that plagiarism is the last refuge of the hack with a deadline, with apologies to Samuel Johnson, who said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."


Vikas P Goel said...

Actually plagiarism is rampant across media , but it's difficult to believe that Editor of India Today did it - shall wait for his comments.

Anonymous said...


Read this and then please follow link to the author's blog - an India Today "writer" plagiarized a whole long article of the author's last year.

Madhavan said...

@anonymous -- IN this particular case I dont think the editor himself is involved. Just some hack, i think. It is common for section heads to write in symbolic representation of editor

Charusheela said...

I came across this blog recently from Kerala called Voice of Keralam (http://voiceofkeralam.blogspot.com/2011/01/endosulfan-pesticide-victims-different.html) which has done a fair bit of analysis on media reportage on Endosulfan. What is revealing is that diverse media outlets including Economic Times, DNA, The Hindu, The Daily Pioneer, etc have reported different numbers for 'endosulfan victims' in their media reports. For instance, The Kerala government has made an official statement (as reported in The Hindu & The Daily Pioneer) that the number of endosulfan victims are 2826 of which 500 deaths are said to be observed, based on which a compensation package has been announced by the state government. While Economic Times, about a month back has reported 300 alleged deaths and 8000-9000 victims while a DNA article in Dec 2010 reports 1000 killed and 10000 victims!

These media reports suggest that the reporters filing stories are either dependent on vested interests who are feeding information which is taken at face value or there is a genuine lack of understanding of such a sensitive issue amongst the media fraternity that they rely heavily on any "source" for information. Coincidently, most of the media reports are very vague about the source of information for the "endosulfan victims" numbers that they report.

While the Endosulfan issue is deeply concerning, I believe that media must be able to report the accurate information based on scientific rationale and studies rather than going by the popular sentiment and opinion, especially if the issue is pertaining to human lives. This may lead to mass hysteria and scare amongst the common public who are dependent on the media to objectively interpret a complex issue such as endosulfan.

asanandan said...

Good article to read.



NurTheVanquishedFree said...

Madhavan, what if I like what you say, imbibe it and reproduce it in some point in time consciously, subconsciously or unconsciously? You cannot call it plagiarism...it's learning and carrying forward what I've learnt.

But if I copy it with the bad intention of passing it as my own it is plagiarism.
Let me know your take on my belief!

Madhavan said...

Sure, Nur...but if the words are same or suspiciously similar, yu are suspect;-)

Selena said...

Yes, Plagiarism is getting big