Thursday, October 10, 2013

What To Do With Liars and Cheats?

Dan Reimold, who writes the blog College Media Matters, has a disturbing post on the site about how the Daily O'Collegian at Oklahoma dealt with a reporter who invented sources and quotations for her stories. It raises important and uncomfortable questions for all college papers.

After investigating the incident, Reimold writers, the paper:
• fired the writer
• instituted a policy of requiring a source list, with contact information, from reporters for every story, and
• ran a letter to readers explaining the incident.

What it did NOT do is name the reporter. Reimold asks his readers what they think of that decision and posts some of the responses.

Two threads emerge:
• A student paper is a learning experience and students will make mistakes, so don't reveal the name and effectively (in the digital age) end the person's career before it starts.
• Treat this student the same way the paper treats students who do crimes (their names appear in the police blotter) or student governors who do stupid things.

Even more disturbing to me is the list of five other stories about plagiarism and other journalistic mortal sins that appears at the bottom of the post.

So, what do you think? Did the O'Collegian editors do the right thing? What should The Orion's policy be?

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