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CBS Producer Fired Over Charges of Plagiarism

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In a bit that is all too familiar these days, Variety is reporting that a producer for Katie Couric's nightly news broadcast on CBS lifted material directly from the Wall Street Journal. What I don't understand is how someone could be that desperate or that stupid. To plagiarize from a small place to another small place is one thing, people think they can get away with that and often do because they don't think anybody will notice. But to rip off the WSJ and then give it to Katie Couric to be broadcast on the nightly news? Is this person insane?

An editor for the Wall Street Journal called CBS News to point out the similarities of the April 4 notebook item to Zaslow's article, headlined "Of the Places You'll Go, Is the Library Still One of Them?" The pieces talk about how libraries are seen differently by children and their parents. "We were horrified," CBS News spokeswoman Sandra Genelius said. "It was almost verbatim."

Imagine the legal liability CBS now holds if WSJ decides to act on this. I seriously doubt that'll ever happen, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is some sort of an under-the-table "please don't be mad" deal in place that favors WSJ somehow. Regardless, this is a major hit on CBS News' credibility. They check their material so loosely that something like this slipped past, I think the entire department policy needs to be rechecked. This is unprecedented.

The editors note doesn't say anything more than this story does, and honestly I think it's a bit of a copout. It says essentially that the video segment "was based on ... by Jeffrey Zaslow that ran in The Wall Street Journal.." which isn't true at all. They didn't know at the time that the material was plagiarized and so it wasn't based on Zaslow's column, it was his column. Firing the producer was good, but shame on CBS for now biting the bullet and taking full and complete responsibility for this one.

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