Thursday, April 12, 2007

CBS Copycat!

I love writing for broadcast news. I like being clever and fitting a lot of information succinctly into short segments. With every story, there's millions of ways you can write a script. Which is why I have absolutely no idea why a CBS producer felt the need to plagiarize a Wall Street Journal article this week for a video essay that featured Katie Couric and appeared on her blog, Couric & Co. The essay was part of an ongoing segment called "Katie Couric's Notebook."

The essay was about libraries and was copied almost verbatim from a column by Jeffrey Zaslow in the Wall Street Journal.

Check out some of the similarities:

COURIC: "For kids today, the library is more removed from their lives. It's a last-ditch place to go if they need to find something out."

WSJ: "The library is more removed from their lives," says Sabra Steinsiek, a retired librarian in Albuquerque, N.M. "It's a last-ditch place to go if they need to find something out."

COURIC: Sure, children still like libraries, but books aren't the draw.

WSJ: Sure, there are still library-loving children, but books aren't necessarily the draw.

COURIC: ...but many tech-savvy kids never experience the joy of using the library's shelves as a place to discover new worlds.

WSJ: But many tech-savvy kids never experience the library as a place for serendipitous discovery.


How a producer could think this was okay is beyond me. I would give almost anything to be a network news producer. And now here is somebody that has (well now I guess I should say had, since she has been fired) my dream job and disrespects the position and her place of employment.

How hard would it have been to come up with a unique idea for the segment known as "Katie's Notebook," which features commentaries by Couric. (As a sidebar--I think its kind of ridiculous that Katie Couric does not write these commentaries herself--they're usually in the first person and often she is reflecting on her own life.) But--since she did not write it--I don't think she should accept any of the blame. Producers and anchors should work as a team and anchors should be able to trust that their copy is not plagiarized. Can you imagine how laborious the process would be if anchors had top make sure all their copy was not plagiarized?

Why has there been such an increase in plagiarism lately? Are networks pressed to churn out so much content that its leading people to cut corners? I think it may have to do with the fact that information is so easily accessible from the Internet. It's so easy to google information--I guess some people take it a step further and pluck a few words and phrases here and put them in their stories. This is unacceptable!


At Friday, April 13, 2007, Blogger Amanda M. said...

Wow! I had not heard about this. Katie Couric must be mortified - this is a story in itself. I'm not sure she shouldn't be at least partly responsible for what comes out of her mouth. I remember reading the CNN Fiasco article and the anchor said that it wasn't his fault that what he was saying was not true, he was just the "face" of the story. This is about plagarism and not libel though, which makes it much different. I guess unless Katie had read the WSJ article, she would have had no idea and no reason to suspect she was being fed plagarized material. It just reminds me of when Katie called out the Harvard plagarizer so ferociously. Katie must be so embarassed. No matter that it wasn't her faul - her credibility, her fragile gravitas is injured by this.

At Saturday, April 14, 2007, Blogger ji said...

Upfront I will tell you...I am not a Katie Couric fan. However, I do agree that responsibility for this does fall on Couric's shoulders. I was always taught that if you are going to put your name on something--and tote your wrote it--you better do your homework. I believe that an apology needs to come from Couric to the readers of her Notebook. Yes, newsrooms are a team and there is no "I" in team. Therefore, all parties are responsible. It is the job of any anchor to read their scripts before air time to ensure the statements are factual. Maybe Katie Should spend more time with her Notebook and actually write it herself. Undoubtedly, not only are here ratings plummeting, but her credibility is in the toilet now too. Oh, and I wouldnt feel bad for Katie either...she goes home to her millions of dollars every day. If you ever meet her off camera, you will learn this, she is rude to fans and is two-faced. At last, the fake facade of Couric is crumbling!

At Saturday, April 14, 2007, Blogger HAW said...

This is absolutely ridiculous. And I do feel like Katie Couric is at least partly responsible for it. This is laziness on her part to not even double check something that is being posted under her name. Not to mention, it's lazy that she doesn't even write this "Notebook" herself. She is continuously losing the respect of the journalism world and the viewing public. I am starting to think her days are numbered.

This also brings up another interesting point about networks never placing the blame on their precious anchors. They don't want to lose ratings by pulling an anchor. Actually in this case, if they got rid of Couric, I think CBS ratings would stand to do better. I'm not saying she should be fired over something like this but combined with poor ratings and other controversies (i.e. Elizabeth Edwards), CBS may think about giving her the boot.

And on another note: Now we know Katie Couric doesn't read the Wall Street Journal. Come on, Katie, even I read the Journal and I'm no host of the CBS Evening News.


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