Thursday, May 21, 2009

Maureen Dowd Plagiarism

Maureen Dowd admitted this week to plagiarizing a passage from a blog post by Joshua Marshall, who writes for Talking Points Memo.

I've just listened to the Slate Culture Gabfest, and Stephen Metcalf et al. pointed out that the mainstream media has basically given Dowd a free pass (they cited specifically to Slate's own Jack Shafer, and they are right that Shafer does tend to be quite critical of media hotshots but went easy on Dowd).

The passage that Dowd lifted:
More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.
I thought about Dowd's plagiarism this week in the context of an article I read about the continued increase of college course "help" sites on the internet. These sites do everything from offering answers to the even-numbered math problems in textbooks to selling term papers.

The question of "what is new // what is original" will become more and more common because of episodes like Dowd's. I think the trend will be to increase the premium on original thought and writing - but, at the same time, it will become harder to establish the originality of thought once everyone's thoughts are published.

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