It seems so basic- write your own words. Do your own research. Conduct your own interviews. And yet, every so often we learn of another journalist caught plagiarizing another’s work. This is the case recently at Ocala Magazine. You can read about it here.
Here are some basic tips to keep in mind to avoid plagiarism:
– Cite your sources. It’s ok if you find good information that you want to use in an article, but you MUST give credit where credit is due.
– Use direct quotations, but remember that you also must cite your sources when you paraphrase someone’s remarks.
– Whenever possible, gather the information for your article by conducting your own interviews in person or by phone. It’s impossible to plagiarize someone else’s work when you draw from your own sources.
When hiring writers to write articles for you, choose those with proven track records of writing good, strong copy. It is perfectly acceptable to ask a writer for the names and phone numbers of the sources they used when writing the article you hired them for. Don’t be afraid to follow up with those sources. It is better to be overly cautious than to assume everything is on the up and up.
Learning that a reporter has plagiarized his/her work leaves a bad mark not only on that writer, but on the publication that published the work. Ocala Magazine is in that unfortunate position today. They are having to do damage control and the next several months will be spent trying to restore their reputation.