Been Caught Stealing  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   April/May 2005

Been Caught Stealing   


I recently had the opportunity to read (and re-read and re-read and..) the article in your December 2004/January 2005 issue, "Caught 'Accidentally' Stealing" by Caroline Zaayer (Drop Cap). While I am not a paid journalist, I have always been interested in all aspects of news--reporting, reading, writing, photography, etc. I have also been fortunate to have had a number of fiction and nonfiction stories, poems and a few photographs/stories accepted for publication in local and international press.

The necessity of having to read this article many times resulted from my inability to accept some of the comments, opinions and actions attributed to some of the people involved in this situation:

If Mr. Puleo, as he claims, didn't know what plagiarism is, he should have checked his Funk and Wagnall's--a LONG time ago.

If Mr. Puleo, as was reported, misrep-resented his past duties/assignments, he shouldn't be in the business.

If Mr. Puleo had NO journalism training and didn't/doesn't know how to be a reporter, why is he there? I'm sure there are more than a few Temple or UM graduates that would love to have his job!

If the Times Herald allows plagiarism, it shouldn't be in the business and should be shut down.

If Ms. Newitt "saw nuances" in the situation, it was only because the paper allowed the practice--plagiarism IS black and white!

Professor Nelson of Northwestern is right: "There is no winner here." But the biggest losers are the readers of the Times Herald and those of us who still expect honesty in journalism. I guess we should feel better that Mr. Puleo is "now extremely careful."

Oh yes, my strong feeling about this comes from a class in English I had once--IN THE 7th GRADE!!! It was/IS so simple: If you are not the author of the sentence/phrase/paragraph/story that you are quoting, give credit to who is; it makes no difference how the information was obtained, print, electronic or... In my opinion, the entire situation is pathetic!

Richard H. Kratz
Zephyrhills, Florida

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