Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Is One Minute Of Originality Too Much To Ask?

CBS News just canned a producer who plagiarized material from the Washington Post's Jeffrey Zaslow and used it for "Katie Couric's Notebook" -- a one-minute editorial series that runs weekdays on and some CBS TV and radio stations.

From the Post's Howard Kurtz:
Much of the rest of the script was stolen from the Journal. Couric said: "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."

Zaslow wrote in March: "The library is more removed from their lives. It's a last-ditch place to go if they need to find something out."

Couric said: "Sure, children still like libraries, but books aren't the draw."

Zaslow wrote: "Sure, there are still library-loving children, but books aren't necessarily the draw."
From the CBS News "PublicEye" Blog:
Couric has significant involvement in the Notebooks, though she does not write all of them. Every week, she meets with producers to go over ideas and discuss possible themes. Sometimes, she then writes the pieces herself; in other cases, a producer writes them, after which Couric edits and tapes them. In the case of the April 4 piece, Couric was involved in choosing the topic, though she did not write the piece herself... Couric was on vacation last week, and the April 4 Notebook was pre-taped to run while she was away.
Plagiarism is unacceptable, but that's not the only thing that bothers me. Katie let someone put thoughts into her mouth, even if she did choose the topic. As Kurtz notes:
What made the ripoff especially striking was the personal flavor of a video -- now removed from the CBS Web site -- that began, "I still remember when I got my first library card, browsing through the stacks for my favorite books."
"I" who? That producer or Katie?

For $15 million a year, every page in Katie's notebook ought to be hers, not her producers'. At one minute each, these spots barely fill the page. With a cadre of staffers helping her, don't tell me she can't get enough time to pen such meager copy by herself -- and with time to think about it, too.

Otherwise, we need a disclaimer: "The opinions expressed by this newscaster are not necessarily the ones found in her own head."

No comments: