Lest anyone argue that an assignment spawned by a mad cow conference call is likely to produce very similar stories, see this sidebar, where I juxtapose the opening paragraphs of the Bloomberg piece (July 15) and Times piece (July 16) with the opening paragraphs of mad cow conference call stories published on July 15 by the globeandmail.com and the Omaha World-Herald.
I alerted Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson to the similarities between the two articles. Via e-mail she responds:
It appears that Alexei did not fully understand Times policy of not using wire boilerplate and giving credit when we do make use of such material. As I mentioned to you, other papers do permit unattributed use of such material. He should not have inserted wire material into his Times coverage without attribution.
That said, because the new examples do not involve many words or an original thought, the transgression does not seem to be as serious as the first instance on paco.
I disagree with Abramson about the seriousness of the transgression.
The New York Times Company Policy on Ethics in Journalism states very simply why plagiarism is wrong and how the company deals with it:
Staff members or outside contributors who plagiarize betray our fundamental pact with our public. … We will not tolerate such behavior.
Beyond that, I've got nothing to say. Send your notions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum, in a future article, or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)