From AJR, March 2001 issue
Yet another spate of episodes of plagiarism and fabrication is raising concerns about the state of journalism. But a tougher and more candid approach to enforcing standards is also part of the picture.
By Lori Robertson
Lori Robertson (email@example.com), a former AJR managing editor, is a senior contributing writer for the magazine.
D ENNIS LOVE DIDN'T need to do it. He wasn't manufacturing unheard-of stories, amazing tales that astounded editors and readers alike. He was a good reporter.
His editor still says so. But, perhaps, Love wasn't satisfied with "good," and besides, with the wealth of information on the Internet, "it was very easy," he says. It was also easy to get caught. On November 21, the Sacramento Bee fired Love for plagiarizing and fabricating material in his stories on the presidential campaign.
At first, he told editors he didn't know why he did what he did. But he's had some time to think about it. "I think several things contributed to it in my situation," says Love, 47. "No. 1, it's just a simple human fallibility of taking a shortcut where one was available, concerning some stories that maybe I didn't care as much about as some other stories. I know that sounds maybe sort of cavalier. But I really do think that it was a character weakness." There's still an element of mystery, however. "This is not something that I have historically done."
Love had been a political writer with the Bee for 20 months. His previous employer, the Orange County Register, investigated his work there and found no signs of misappropriation. Love says this is the first time he's done such a thing, and the weird aspect is that some of the stuff he took‹from U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the Boston Globe and the Dallas Morning News‹didn't seem to be absolutely necessary for the story he already had‹"filler quotes," he calls them. In at least one instance, he says, he had interviewed a source but used somebody else's quotes from the same source anyway. Why would he do that?
Love's firing came at the outset of the most recent spate of plagiarism and fabrication episodes in the news industry. Northwestern University's Medill News Service said November 17 it could not verify information in two of its stories. (It did not name the author, Eric R. Drudis, a Northwestern journalism student.) Papers at which Drudis had previously interned--the San Jose Mercury News, the Philadelphia Daily News and the San Francisco Examiner--subsequently could not find proof that sources from 17 of Drudis' stories had existed. In late December, the Detroit News admitted to lifting a paragraph from a suburban weekly. Publisher and Editor Mark Silverman says a reporter and an editor were disciplined, though he would not provide details. About a week later, a Mercury News intern, David Cragin, was suspended--and shortly thereafter fired--for plagiarizing material, including the words of the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. In its January 15 issue, Business Week apologized for using "information and wording without attribution" from the Washington Post. The column in question, by Marcia Stepanek, a journalist with about 20 years of experience, borrowed heavily from the Post article. After a two-month investigation, Business Week fired her. At Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's Sun News, Features Editor Mona Prufer stepped down January 15 after evidence of copying appeared in her weekly books column and a cooking column. And, on February 7, the Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, Press Enterprise fired reporter Steven Helmer after he admitted to fabricating at least one person in a story about a local shopping mall.
Journalism has witnessed three or four of these flurries in the last few years, and every time it touches off columns and stories decrying the poor state of the industry. The clamor brings with it a sense that this is the worst thing that has ever happened, and it just goes to show that journalism ethics are on the decline. But wait--could the opposite be true? Has there actually been an increase in plagiarism and fabrication? Or is all the catching and firing indicative of a business that's just not going to take it anymore? Journalists scramble for a reason why, hoping to pin this on something, as if there couldn't be a way for this to happen again. But then, it does. Is there a why? Does the praised-and-blamed Internet play a role? And, most important, is there anything news organizations can do to prevent this wrongdoing from occurring in the first place?
I F IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST form of flattery, we seem to be entering an age not rivaled since royal courts teemed with bowing courtiers in plumed hats. Everywhere you look somebody is getting busted for plagiarism, which is imitation carried to its highest form, the exact copy.
That lead was written in 1991 by Jerry Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle. It just as easily could have been written last month.
But each time a slew of people get caught, it's not necessarily indicative of a slip in journalistic standards, or even a trend. In fact, say many, ethical standards are higher today. And while it's important to talk of the seriousness of these sins, perhaps the actual number of cases is decreasing. After all, most organizations are quick to dismiss the purloiners--two plagiarists down, X more to go. Are the media actually cleaning up their act?
"We in the media have become more sensitive to ethical problems than we were perhaps 10 or 20 years ago," says Fred Brown, chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists' ethics committee and the Denver Post's Capitol bureau chief. "We understand that in an environment where people are bombarded by all kinds of media...it's important that serious media have credibility and are serious about maintaining it."
Philip Meyer, a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says "plagiarism that used to be acceptable is not anymore." In a May 1999 USA Today column, he cited a 1938 journalism textbook by C.D. MacDougall, which "advised concealing the source of rewritten material in order to make it seem original," Meyer wrote.
News organizations seem almost desperate to rebuild credibility in the public's eyes. It's the age of admit and reveal and explain. And, so, the media are admitting and revealing and explaining not only in their own outlets, but over the Internet. Now, everyone hears about almost every gaffe, whether it involves the New York Times or the Owensboro, Kentucky, Messenger-Inquirer.
Washington Post Supreme Court reporter Charles Lane was the editor of The New Republic in May 1998 when the magazine fired Stephen Glass for fabricating a story. What turned out to be Glass' chronic fictionalizing marked the start of a rash of plagiarism and fabrication cases that have come to light since. Lane says he sees the cluster as a sign of health of the industry, "in the same way that a fever is a good sign that your body is fighting an infection." News organizations "seem to be comfortable with coming forward and saying, ŚWe have a bad apple,' " he says.
A few months after Glass was exiled from journalism, Patricia Smith and then Mike Barnicle, Boston Globe star columnists, resigned because of fabrication charges. Smith admitted she had made people up; Barnicle maintained that a questioned column from 1995 was true. National media coverage of the episodes mushroomed for weeks. That attention, says Globe Editor Matthew V. Storin, has sprouted more detailed examinations of possible wrongdoing at other news organizations. "Now, between the Internet, which allows the transmittal of this information much quicker, and the effect of the Barnicle/Smith stories, there seems to be more attention paid to these instances," Storin says.
Some journalists and media critics do say plagiarism is on the rise, and an increase or decrease is almost impossible to measure. But most agree on one thing: The media are on high alert. One case causes a ripple through the industry, launching a plagiarist's past employers into a frenzy to restore their now-tainted credibility. Go ahead, journalism seems to be saying. Plagiarize. We'll catch you. And then we'll examine every story you've ever written.
The New Republic found evidence of fabrication in 27 of the 41 articles Glass wrote for the magazine. Lane says many saw that episode as a cautionary tale. "People broadly now are more aware that there's this fine line between trusting someone you work with and being a chump," he says. "And you definitely don't want to be a chump."
T HE FIRST STEP IN fixing a problem is to find out why it occurred. However, with plagiarism and fabrication, as with much human behavior, reasons aren't always clear. In a soul-searching way, Dennis Love runs through most of them: ambition, self-induced pressure, sheer opportunity. He says it may be "a reluctance to turn in a mediocre story.... You don't want to be ordinary, and there's nothing really wrong with being ordinary from time to time."
Most journalists want to gain approval. The difference is, most journalists don't plagiarize. Most journalists don't make it up.
Frank Ahrens, a staff writer for the Washington Post's Style section, says everyone has been in the situation: You're on deadline; you didn't have time to do the research someone else had already done; your quotes are "banal or flat"; you think, "Wouldn't it be better if he said this instead?" "But you stop," Ahrens says. "You don't do that."
Whether from ambition, compulsion or laziness, fabricators often invent the unusual: Eric Drudis' 9-year-old boy who had been arrested more than 70 times; Stephen Glass' Wall Street investment company that housed a shrine to Alan Greenspan, complete with two Bic pens used by the Federal Reserve chairman in 1993; Janet Cooke's 8-year-old heroin addict in her infamous 1981 Washington Post piece.
But Love's Warren Deering, a gun issues expert, doesn't budge an eyebrow. Of then-Vice President Al Gore's tie-breaking vote on gun control legislation, the fictitious Deering said: "With that vote, Gore solidified his standing forever with gun-control advocates, and forever earned the enmity of the pro-gun lobby."
Surely, there must be no shortage of firearms pundits ready and willing to serve up such a quote. Love is one of many who have used quotes they could have easily obtained on their own or who have stolen rather innocuous material. He admits some character flaw "allowed me to hit the button to file my story. I mean, I knew what I was doing."
In such instances and in blatant plagiarism cases, the act may be one of compulsion, like shoplifting. It's a theory to which Philip Meyer is beginning to subscribe. "Some plagiarists act like they want to be caught," he says. Like some shoplifters, they don't even need the stuff they're taking.
All of these reasons, however, have been given for years. The one thing that's changed for Love and Cragin and others: the Internet.
It used to be to plagiarize from another publication, you'd have to type the information in letter by letter, staring at your source. It took a little more effort than what you can do now: cut and paste some words from a Web page you can call up in seconds. Love admits the availability tapped his weakness. The new medium changes the dynamics once again.
Almost everyone interviewed for this article mentioned the Net as a greater lure and a greater police officer in the game of plagiarism. "There are more eyes looking at more publications across the country," says Sacramento Bee Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez. "There's a potential for increased plagiarism, but I also think the potential to get caught is greater." Just as a writer can highlight and copy, an editor can hit the search button.
Rodriguez goes on to caution that the standards for print and online need to be the same. He says the Bee's director of new media recently did a copyright violation search of the Web for a Bee review of a Shania Twain concert. The review popped up on about 100 Web sites, mostly fan sites and music pages, he says, without the paper's permission. Similarly, the Associated Press is running into more copyright violations as Web sites that aren't members post AP material.
We all think the Web is free. And that idea, says the Post's Ahrens, may cheapen the words on the screens, making plagiarism seem less of a crime.
"I'm always surprised when all my journalism friends say, 'I don't have cable.... I don't have a TV,' " says Ahrens. As if they're too good for it. "But TV is a cheap medium." That characteristic "tends to devalue the content on it.... Unlike a movie or a book," which costs money. "The Internet may cheapen the content on it, because it's right in front of you." It's easy. It's free for the taking.
And it's voluminous. Karen DeWitt, a Washington, D.C.-based writer and former senior editor at ABC News, says offenses are harder to catch because an editor can't read everything that's on the Web. "There's huge amounts of information that's easily accessible," she says.
But while the Internet may spell a frontier of freedom for some, it's fostered an age of the hyperlink for others. Says Meyer: "One thing that the Internet is encouraging us all to do is to cite sources with much greater care than in the past.... I try to drop the name of a book or the name of a Web site" into a column, to point readers to sources of more information.
The understanding of what constitutes plagiarism is not universally held. When DeWitt taught a freshman journalism class at Kansas State University during the 1989-90 school year, one of her students lifted whole paragraphs from a Newsweek article. DeWitt told the student she would receive an automatic F; the student protested that she had mentioned the Newsweek article in her piece. The fact that she still couldn't swipe chunks of another person's story "seemed a very difficult concept for her to grasp," DeWitt says, adding that it's a problem she's heard of at other universities as well.
The San Jose Mercury News' David Cragin didn't get it either. When he admitted to using passages from a story by the Post's Ahrens, he told the Merc, "I know it's pretty similar obviously, but that's just a small piece of the story." He didn't think what he'd done was unethical, but said, "evidently, I guess I'm wrong." (Mercury News Executive Editor David Yarnold, however, disagrees with that statement. "My guess is he knew that it was wrong at the time," Yarnold says.)
In a December 26 story on San Francisco families living in hotels, Cragin wrote: "Most of these hotels in the city are more than half a century old; they were built for the solitary working men who streamed into the city to toil at the wharves and the railway lines. They were never meant for families."
Ahrens had written November 27: "Most of these hotels are more than a half-century old; they were built as hives for the working men who streamed to this city to toil at the wharves and the railway lines. They were never meant for families."
Ahrens, who was out of town when the plagiarism news broke, received a hearty, " 'Way to go, congratulations,' " from Post colleagues, he says. His own reaction was that "it was odd," to see his words under someone else's name. "Writers tend to remember what they wrote.... I remember where I was when I was writing things." He recalls sweating over a "short, powerful" line that would pull readers into a long story: "They were never meant for families."
"I could see," Ahrens says, "in his story, it was like boilerplate."
Writers do remember their turns of phrase, the right word that finally came to them in the shower, their rhythm, the decision to go back and put in periods to make short, choppy sentences.
All of which makes the "accidental" plagiarism, the "it got mixed up in my notes" excuse, a little harder to believe. Ahrens, for one, isn't buying it. "That's baloney," he says. "That's a big pile of sliced baloney.... If you're not a halfwit or a felon...you know what's going on."
Meyer also brings up the carelessness excuse, but then adds, "it doesn't sound viable for me."
Others can see it happening, however, and news organizations have accepted that plea. Ruth Shalit, for one, admitted to being "a klutz" when charged with plagiarism in two stories in The New Republic in 1994 and '95. She continued working at the magazine, faced another incident in '96--after which she took a leave of absence--and eventually left in January 1999.
Whether the cut-and-paste ease and the mass of electronic information will lead to more cases of plagiarism--or more firings--is unclear. Some editors, such as Rosemary Armao, wouldn't accept the "mistaken ownership" excuse. "I just don't think we have any room for it," says the Sarasota Herald-Tribune managing editor. "There is something that has to be absolute, and that's that it's an original work product."
She continues, "The Internet has certainly increased the number of resources and sources you can use." That doesn't mean you can't name those sources.
Editors seem to be most forgiving when copying involves news briefs or items based on wire and other news accounts. That's when a bungled attribution becomes more understandable. In July, San Antonio Express-News Sports Editor Mitchell Krugel apologized to readers, as did Editor Robert Rivard, for not crediting four paragraphs in Krugel's piece on Tiger Woods to Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Gil LeBreton. The story carried Krugel's byline and the tag line: "Express-News wire services contributed to this report." The LeBreton piece ran on the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service wire. Krugel wrote in his apology that he was not trying to use LeBreton's words as his own, but he should have better attributed his material.
As a result, an Express-News committee took a look at the paper's policy. "Given the landscape," one of information saturation, says Krugel, "we should examine and reexamine attribution consistently, and this is a situation that helped raise the consciousness on doing better journalism."
A FTER CHARLES LANE found himself duped by Stephen Glass, he adopted a more meticulous approach to checking out potential new hires. Say you got your bachelor's from Brown, for instance? He'd call and find out. Lane says that may be the only way to prevent fabricators from gaining a voice in journalism.
"I really think the most important thing you can do, which The New Republic really didn't do when it hired Stephen Glass, is screen people very carefully when they come in for integrity," he says. "Make sure you have sort of an honest person coming in the door."
The Washington Post could have benefited from such vetting. Janet Cooke had lied about graduating from Vassar College and speaking Portuguese.
To make sure staffers already on staff don't start fibbing in the future is more difficult, Lane says. "There's a small percentage of people who just aren't honest...and don't care that they aren't honest." Shut the door before they make it in.
Editors who have dealt with plagiarism or fabrication often try to institute a reform or ethical reinforcement in the aftermath:
Before Patricia Smith and Mike Barnicle resigned in the summer of 1998, the Boston Globe had a policy under which editors were to ask for verification of unnamed or unknown sources in columns and news stories. "These policies were not being followed" as stringently as they should have been, Editor Storin says. "Suffice to say, they are being followed now, scrupulously." Phone numbers may be requested, but editors normally don't call sources. Also, Louisa Williams, managing editor for administration, talks with each hire about the paper's plagiarism and fabrication policies.
After Julie Amparano was fired by the Arizona Republic for fabrication in August 1999, the paper reworked its corrections policy, says Reader Advocate Richard de Uriarte. Corrections are seen by the entire newsroom; the paper creates "an electronic paper trail of each call, each concern, its resolution...by editor, by the section, that kind of thing," he says. The message behind these correction chronicles is, "Look what has gone wrong; look what can be done better."
The Sacramento Bee had halted its usual brown-bag ethics lunches for about a year while it altered its pagination process. In the wake of the Love incident, Editor Rodriguez says the paper reinstituted the sessions in January. The episode fostered many discussions at the paper on what constitutes plagiarism. A "high-profile, unfortunate incident reinforces to people that we take the issue very seriously, and we'll deal with it very seriously," Rodriguez says.
Detroit News Publisher and Editor Mark Silverman talked to editors about gathering suburban news after the paper plagiarized a local weekly in December. They determined that the instance was isolated, but he sent a note out to remind staff of the paper's ethics policy. The paper also will hold "at least yearly" brown-bag ethics talks.
The San Jose Mercury News pledged to host a one-day seminar for new interns after Cragin's and Drudis' deeds were revealed. Executive Editor Yarnold says the paper will go over its news policies at the training sessions--"not just plagiarism or attribution, but to go through everything from when we name sources to when we name victims...and make some things clear that we thought were obvious" and the journalism schools thought were obvious. The Merc will clarify its existing plagiarism and attribution policies as well.
After Love was fired by the Bee, his former employer, the Orange County Register, held a series of internal training sessions in its bureaus. Ombudsman Dennis Foley and Training Editor Larry Welborn led discussions on plagiarism and ethics, aimed mostly at younger reporters. Foley saw it as a "good opportunity to remind everybody that our craft and our ethics and our credibility...is tied up in this," he says.
Other papers use high-profile cases to encourage discussion and awareness, as does Northwestern University. Ken Bode, the journalism school's dean, says the school would "stop the presses when anything like this happens in the real world of journalism," hosting ethics panels on the actual cases. "You hope that people don't have to learn the ethics and regulations of our profession on the run and on the road." (Bode was barred from talking about the Drudis case because of federal student privacy laws.)
But the idea that a news organization would implement plagiarism safeguards seems almost silly to some editors. "You're talking about one of the most basic sins in journalism, and we have a very detailed code of ethics," says Business Week Editor in Chief Stephen B. Shepard, "and it does not say, 'Do not steal,' on the assumption that anyone who works at Business Week bloody well knows that."
Some journalists may need a little reminding. "Maybe [news organizations] need to quit assuming that the basics are that well understood by people they hire," says SPJ's Fred Brown. "The other thing is to communicate with journalism schools to make sure they're teaching that lesson."
Business Week does fact-check stories, but only to verify the names of people, companies and institutions, says Shepard. The rest is the responsibility of the writer. Most newspapers, with daily deadlines, don't see fact-checking as a viable reform. And given Glass' ability to fool TNR's fact-checkers--he built a fake Web site, gave fake phone numbers--it's uncertain whether that would catch a determined fabricator or plagiarist before a story made it into print.
Since at least 1987, the Orange County Register has carried out accuracy checks. At first, the ombudsman would send out short surveys to news sources, asking how they had been treated by the paper, and then circulate the responses. Now, Foley sends letters inviting sources to call him or have him come talk to them. While it may help the paper's credibility and news practices, the policy is not designed to catch stolen words or made-up people. "It's not intended to be the internal affairs investigation accusing the reporters of doing wrong," Foley says.
Besides, Storin and Lane aren't too sure a specific policy is the answer. "I think as much as it's important that we follow that procedure, I would like to think," says the Globe's Storin, "that after the agony of what we went through and the effect that it had on the careers...that this is the least likely paper where fabrication would occur."
Says Lane: "There's sort of a tendency to look for procedural fixes for this stuff.... If we only had more fact-checkers," or a better flow of copy. The New Republic bolstered its fact-checking roster and developed a written fact-checking policy. "It helped," Lane says, "but it didn't create any kind of guarantee."
Perhaps, Lane says, he should've been more doubtful of Glass. "If someone could never, ever show you the place he went to to talk to this particular source," because it was too dangerous or secret; or if your reporter "always has the perfect quote...that might be a bit of a warning," he says. Then again, some journalists are just that good. "Steve was so bent on doing what he was doing and then covering it up that there really, I think, in hindsight, was very little that could have been done prophylactically. It was just luck" that a writer with Forbes Digital Tool caught a lie.
But don't journalists corner the market on skepticism? Maybe not when it comes to one of their own. Geneva Overholser, a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group and a journalism professor at the University of Missouri, says more skepticism may be what's needed. "At the very first suspicion you have to ask," she says, comparing editors to the spouses of alcoholics. They begin to suspect something. But they don't want to believe it.
W HEN SAN ANTNIO'S KRUGEL didn't give a columnist his proper credit, the paper gushed with apology to its readers. When the Arizona Republic fired Julie Amparano, it told readers on its front page and followed with a 2,800-word treatise on her ouster. When Rodriguez fired Love, he published a letter from the editor on the incident the next day. Most of the 30 to 40 calls and e-mails he then received from readers were supportive. "I think they were surprised that we dealt with it that directly and that publicly," he says. "Some of them thought we were being sanctimonious."
While there are still cases in which writers are barely disciplined or where they are not singled out by their news organizations, other media are more than happy to name names. In July, the New York Times acknowledged that material had been copied in an obituary of British spy-trainer Vera Atkins. An editors' note, which stressed the article had been "based substantially" on Times research, said "five brief passages in the [June 27] obituary closely reflected the phrasing of an obituary in The Times of London." The paper did not name the writer, Douglas Martin, though other outlets did. Times Managing Editor Bill Keller says only that the incident was "resolved as an internal disciplinary" matter, and the paper does not usually name writers in its corrections. Martin still writes obits for the paper; however, the issue led Obituaries Editor Charles Strum to initiate talks with writers on how to appropriately attribute material in obits, which are often based on other accounts.
Public embarrassment coupled with swift punishment may be the best deterrent to crimes of copying or out-and-out lying. It may also change the public's views: In an October 1998 survey by the Media Studies Center, 76 percent of respondents believed that journalists often or sometimes plagiarize, and 66 percent said they make stuff up.
To some observers, punishments dished out today tend to be more harsh than in the past. "I think there are more serious consequences than there used to be," says SPJ's Brown. He feels the Smith/Barnicle cases "raised the bar."
Meyer says some penalties in the last few years were "way too heavy." Many journalists thought Globe editorial page columnist Jeff Jacoby's four-month suspension in July wasn't warranted. Jacoby's July 3 column on the signers of the Declaration of Independence was hardly an original idea--the gist of it was zipping around the Internet. His version resembled several other accounts, including one in a 1975 book by Paul Harvey.
Imagine if today a writer included factual errors in a review of an Elton John concert, and it turned out that writer had never picked up her press ticket. When Patricia Smith did so in 1986 at the Chicago Sun-Times, she received a lecture--ironically from then-Sun-Times Editor Storin--and wasn't allowed to write for several months. In 2001, most papers would launch a full-scale investigation into the matter as well as the writer's past works.
News organizations' commitment to deal with plagiarists and fabricators firmly and immediately and the subsequent revelations to the public can only raise credibility and instill a greater fear in would-be thieves. But--and this is a big but--the industry is more than willing to grant second chances. The list of past offenders who made a comeback is long: National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg; the New York Times' Fox Butterfield; Salon.com columnist Ruth Shalit; Mike Barnicle, who joined the New York Daily News in March 1999; and Patricia Smith, who was hired by Ms. Magazine to write a column in January 2000, among many others. Of course--as evidenced by this story--those charges will haunt those writers, quite possibly for the rest of their careers.
"It will probably never go away," says Barnicle, who adds that the Globe rescinded its accusation of plagiarism. (Storin says that's a fair statement. The columnist ultimately left amid fabrication charges.) "It's always out there lurking in some people's minds, not the readers', I don't think...but in the business."
It is a heavy scarlet letter to bear. It's indicative of not only the gravity of the offenses, but the very small percentage of journalists who commit them. The surprising thing is that only one person interviewed for this article said that under no circumstances would she offer a job to someone who had made up material or stolen words.
Says Rosemary Armao: "If I knew about it, I wouldn't hire them. There are so many good people in the market, why take somebody with that mark against them?" She says she can hardly even read Ms. since it hired Smith.
Even Storin and Lane hedge. Each case is different, they say. "Is it a second or a third or a fourth chance?" Storin asks.
Lane's answer: "If anybody ever hired Steve Glass in journalism again, it would be a very sad day.... If on the other hand, there was somebody who really was going through a tough time personally and broke down and once or twice, but not much more than that, swiped some quotes from somebody else, should they be banished forever? I think no." If he was in the position of hiring, he says, he would go over that person's background "with a fine-tooth comb."
Dennis Love says he's "trying to just accept responsibility for what I did with as much dignity as I can and move on." He is freelancing for some trade magazines and working on a biography of Stevie Wonder. Asked if he will pursue a newspaper career again, he says he's not sure if it's up to him. "I don't know if somebody in my situation gets a second chance or not," Love says. "I could see it happening, I guess.... But I don't know the answer.... In the future, I think that I would like to."
His old boss, Rodriguez, says it would probably be difficult for Love to find a job in journalism in the near future. But he's a believer in second chances as well. "He's such a good writer that you would hope at some point he would use that craft again."
Judging from history, Love could find a second journalistic life. But, in five, maybe 10 years, when AJR inevitably does another piece on plagiarism, his name, along with many of the rest, doubtless will appear again.