U-Va. Newspaper Editors Faced Trumped-up Charges After Revealing Reporter’s Alleged Plagiarism.

After editors of The Cavalier Daily, discovered blatant plagiarism by a staff reporter last month, they reported the offense to their readers, reported it to the university’s student-run Honor Committee and removed the compromised articles from the paper’s website.

Only to find five editors facing formal charges of breaching the University’s Code of Conduct two days later, a charge punishable by expulsion, according to an Oct. 19 Washington Post article.

According to Student Press Law Center (SPLC) and the Washington Post, Anna Marie McKenzie, student and Honor Committee Chair, filed charges against the five student editors through the University of Virginia’s Judiciary Committee. Four of the five charges were dropped, until only Jason Ally, editor in chief, remained on the chopping block, according to the Washington Post.

Jason Ally, editor in chief of the Cavalier Daily found not guilty. Photo Courtesy: http://www.cavalierdaily.com Photo by: Scott Miles

McKenzie alleged the newspaper’s editorial board breached the confidentiality of the reporter’s Honor Committee investigation and the University’s Code of Conduct by publishing the Sept. 12 editorial that announced the plagiarism to Cavalier Daily readers, according to SPLC. (Find The Cavalier Daily editorial here).

The Cavalier Daily editors concealed the identity of the reporter and their work. “The reason: They had reported him to the Honor Committee, a panel that goes to great lengths to protect the identities of alleged offenders,” according to the Washington Post.

“We took every possible step to conceal the identity of the author,” Ally said. “The initial editorial we ran disclosing the plagiarism incident did not include the writer’s name, the writer’s gender, what section the writer worked for or even the titles of the published stories.”

 

The editors full-filled the newspaper’s responsibility to the community they served by reporting the offense. The Cavalier Daily’s editorial board straddled the regulations and ethics of the journalism world and the University’s Code of Conduct admirably with grace and aplomb.

Yet, the editors were thrown under scrutiny and judgement with trumped-up charges. One wonders what McKenzie’s thoughts were as she filed charges against her fellow students. Petty angst? Blinded by power? Or, did she really believe the Sept. 12 editorial violated the confidential identity and impartiality of judgement concerning the word-thief?

On Oct. 18, over a month since the incident occurred, Ally was cleared by the University Judiciary Committee of violating the university’s Code of Conduct by publishing the damning editorial.

Thank god.

What do you think we should take away from this? Was this a case of power hungry bureaucracy run rampart? Or, democracy in a real world application?

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Probable GOP candidates should get off Fox payroll

The political process is being undermined. 

Four of the potential Republican nominees for the 2011 presidential elections are on the Fox Network payroll, according to Politico.com.

Fox is cutting checks to Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, all serious White House hopefuls for the GOP.

Coined by some as “the Fox candidates,” which one of Fox’s blustering air bags is willing to forgo their national soapbox and lucrative checks?

Rick Santorum (R), potential GOP nomination/Image courtesy of videocafe.com

Even greater a detriment to the electoral process: some of the potential GOP nominees are contractually forbidden to appear on any TV network other than Fox.

Steve Scully, C-SPAN political editor, reported that when C-SPAN tried to have Palin on for an interview, Sully was told he must first get Fox’s permission. When he tried, the network cited her contract and denied the request.

“Producers at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC all reported similar experiences,” according to Politico.com. Out of the four on the Fox payroll, only Gingrich has appeared on any other television news outlet since January.

It is Fox’s prerogative to cater their news and be a right-wing, conservative news outlet, determined to bring such perspective to viewers, but to pay political candidates and own contractual rights to their interviews is a disgusting violation of the free flow of information necessary for a successful democracy.

Media interviews of potential candidates are a cornerstone of the political process. Interviews conducted by reporters of major network news organizations are a key informational tool voters use to educate themselves.

Such newscasts provide voters with political agendas, a ‘feeling’ for the politician as a person and facts about a politician’s knowledge base.

Sarah Palin (R) is a contracted commentator for the Fox Network/Image courtesy of goodtimepolitics.com

Can we not remember Palin’s Sept. 2008 interview with ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson?

Let’s just say – Bush Doctrine.

The notion of four potential presidential nominees facing media scrutiny by only a network that “both pays them and offers limited scrutiny,” according to Politico.com, is terrifying – especially in reference to Sarah Palin.

Palin’s interviews before the Fox contract, repeatedly offended the senses with her lack of knowledge on a variety of topics. Since the contract, those problematic quotations declined in frequency. Would we really want to find out a potential presidential nominee is unaware of current agenda because they were not questioned thoroughly?

News organizations in the past have declared support for politicians during elections, and Pat Buchanan did host CNN’s “Crossfire” in the 1990s between GOP primary campaigns, according to Politico.com.

However, while Buchanan certainly gained an advantageous national platform, he was not exclusive with his interviews or traveling around the nation making speeches. Unlike Palin and Santorum, who are traveling, making speeches and, minus the official declaration, running the campaign trail.

Palin said it best in early September in Louisville, Ky. “What would we do without Fox News, America?” she asked. “We love our Fox News, yes.”

Yes, Mrs. Palin, what would you do without Fox?

Published by The Bona Venture on Friday, Oct. 1, 2010