A Conflict of Credibility

Plagiarism ruins journalistic integrity across the world, negatively affects student growth, learning by preventing genuine efforts

Jenna Ruiz, reporter

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Forming false data and information in a publication or essay is on the rise in academics and journalism. According to Donald McCabe of Rutgers University, 14 percent of students admitted to
fabricating or falsifying a story and 7 percent of graduated students reported themselves of participating in the illegal action. According to Steve Buttry, fabrication and plagiarism is harmful to a writer because it can destroy their credibility, reputation and can prevent the journalist from learning. The actions can put the writer into legal situations, and in turn the writer is at risk of being sued or fined by law.

When a writer has plagiarized or fabricated information, they have destroyed credibility for honest reporters, to their paper and to the industry. The public’s opinion on the publication will take a turn for the worst because they now have a difficult time deciphering whether the news is fake or real. In addition, plagiarism changes the way honest reporters are viewed by their readers.

In addition, the career of a student journalist who has fabricated or plagiarized is at risk when they feed the community with false information. In 2008, at Ohio University, a student was expelled
due to copying phrases from the internet to add into their essay. In addition, a writer’s privileges of publishing can be postponed while under investigation or removed completely if deemed appropriate. In worst case scenarios, the student will be kicked out of their school,which has the right to take the student’s degree away. In addition, because it can be illegal in some cases, fines may be incurred.

Students are taught how to write in school to help prepare for the real world, but if the student is plagiarizing and fabricating, it prevents the student from learning fundamental skills. Students think writing in school is unnecessary and is not used in day to day life, but writing helps with communication skills and is necessary for students’ understanding.

Students may believe that plagiarism and fabrication makes an easy grade, but updated systems like Turnitin can catch students in the act. The risks aren’t worth it,
especially when an honest effort could be put in to avoid having to try to overcome many antiplagiarism mechanisms in place.

When students find themselves struggling, they need to refer to guides like the Purdue OWL, or rather talk to their teacher and find an alternative solution like an extension. It’s better to take the time to learn how to research properly and get a late grade than to plagiarize and then earn a failing grade or a zero and other disciplinary measures.
The writer shouldn’t plagiarize or fabricate information to avoid the serious consequences that can arise from this situation. Teachers should receive credible information and links to sources where the data was found to give the student credit for the writing assignment. However, they should also be going over formatting systems like MLA or APA to ensure students are aware of how to cite. Parents need to also be monitoring their students and making sure they’re learning to write.