Committing Plagiarism and Professional Ethics - Research Paper Example

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The paper describes the journalistic profession as part and parcel of the freedom of speech and the press. As such, it is considered as the fourth estate in addition to the three branches of the government. It is tasked with a social responsibility to report the news as factual and without any bias…
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Committing Plagiarism and Professional Ethics
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Journalism and Mass Media (A Blog Post on Professional Ethics) of (affiliation) Journalism and Mass Media The journalistic profession is part and parcel of the freedom of speech and the press. As such, it is considered as the fourth estate in addition to the three branches of the government. It is tasked with a social responsibility to report the news as factual and without any bias, as part of the print media, and in todays context, to all types of media including digital media. It is also in pursuit of reporting that journalists have to adhere to a code of ethics; the reporting must be at all times original, incisive, and objective. Journalists are put to a stricter and higher standard; this is because people rely on them based on trust. A journalist, writer, researcher, or reporter who is guilty of either plagiarism or fabrication betrays that trust because the reading audience relies on the writer, implying that what was written was original, contributed to the discussion, distilled it with his thoughts and ideas, and gave a new insight for the benefit of readers (Seife, 2013, p. 5), and committing plagiarism or fabrication is mortal sins in terms of its professional ethics.
However, it must be conceded that any code of ethics has shades of gray (ibid.) and more so in writing as there is no “canonical code” for journalists; this is because it can boil down to judgment although those who are in the profession know there is a dividing line and when they had crossed it. This is where the normative code of ethics comes in; a group of journalists and reporters know they have an explicit code of conduct to follow and abide by. This particular sector in society has their own peculiar language (lingo) which only members can understand, and this includes a standard when it comes to its professional ethics not to commit plagiarism or fabrication in their stories. It is indeed a tricky minefield on what constitutes plagiarism or not; in any case, people know when they have committed it or not. Ethics can be quite subjective in the sense it depends on the times and the context in which the ethical rules currently operate.
Rules against plagiarism are quite strict when applied in the academic world. This is the assurance by which professors can objectively evaluate their students; otherwise, the students will not learn and the teaching environment will not be conducive to the whole learning process. In this regard, the cheating scandal at Harvard University can be considered from the viewpoint of the second definition of what constitutes normative; in this sense, it means value judgments. A lot of students who were interviewed have the impression they did not commit any wrongdoing; and these students were innocent of the charges because they were made to believe it was alright to collaborate on the assignments, as the particular professor allowed all sorts of resources, even the help of the teaching assistants. The permissive environment in the class under that subject has created a freestyle-type of academic atmosphere and so the students cannot be blamed. Dr. Platt should be the one on the carpet, and not the students, for being too lenient and tolerating all those prohibited behaviors while in his class (Perez-Pena, 2012, p. 42); the students honestly believed that collaboration was allowed. The university is even at fault for not checking with their professors from time to time if the school rules are being always strictly implemented.
Although cheating occurred in both cases, the one committed by Lehrer is inexcusable as he was passing off articles not wholly his own, and he was also recycling some articles for which he got paid. The case at Harvard University is also cheating but it was a different case of misunderstanding by the students because the rules were not sufficiently explained to them. The case at Harvard is similar to artists who collaborate on their works, as sort of a group work. It is a creative nature of the work of artists to re-mix the works of other artists, but people certainly know where portions of their work that were spliced together had come from (Lessig, 2007). Read More
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