Plagiarism is the act of stealing ideas from others and passing it off as your own without crediting the source. Plagiarism is a big problem because it promotes dishonesty. Unfortunately, a lot of writers plagiarize because they are either too lazy or too stupid to come up with their own material. Why go through the hassle of coming up with their own material for a certain topic when these thieves can just steal ideas from other writers? Why not? The work is already there. All these people have to do is put it all together and then pass it on as their own work. These jerks don’t care about acknowledging one’s work. They only care about looking good and making money off “their” stories. According to the article, “A Historian and Her Sources” by Bo Crader, Doris Kearns Goodwin, a historian, was a plagiarist. She stole certain material from various authors in order to write her book, “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys”. According to the article, one of her sources was Lynne McTaggart’s book “Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times.” In her book, McTaggart describes Mrs. Gibson like this: “Mrs. Gibson gave a tea in her honor to introduce her to some of the other girls—hardly a routine practice for new recruits”. Here’s Goodwin’s version: “Mrs. Harvey Gibson gave a tea in her honor to introduce her to some of the other girls—hardly a routine practice for new recruits.” Goodwin is using the same sentence as McTaggart just with different words. That is stealing because even though some of the words are different, both sentences contain the same idea. This is proof that Goodwin steals from other authors since she apparently can’t come up with her own material. She stole McTaggart’s words and ideas without crediting her for her work. In the end, Goodwin is a dishonest and no good plagiarist that steals from the works of others.
Just like Goodwin, Jayson Blair is also another plagiarist that’s a good example of how deceptive certain writers can get. According to “Wikipedia.org”, Jayson Blair is a former New York Times Reporter who plagiarized and fabricated his stories. Blair was an unskilled writer; He made so many reporting errors it was ridiculous. Yet he was still able to keep his job at the Times. Unknown to Blair, the ride was about to end for him. According to “Wikipedia.org”, Blair’s boss at the Times discovered that he had plagiarized an article that was written by his former colleague, Macarena Hernandez. The quotes and details in his article were exactly the same as hers. She contacted the Times about this and as a result, the Times launched an investigation into Blair’s writing practices. Further investigation by the Times revealed that Blair plagiarized and fabricated even more stories. One example is that in his April 3, 2003 piece “Rescue in Iraq and a ‘Big Stir’ in West Virginia”, Blair claimed that he covered Jessica Lynch’s story in her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia. He never visited Palestine and his entire contribution to the story was rearranged details taken from various Associated Press stories. After the Times completed its investigation of Blair, they concluded that he was a dishonest writer and as a result, he was fired from the Times. In short, Goodwin and Blair are both plagiarists that steal from other writers for their own personal gain.
In the article, “Plagiary, It’s Crawling All over Me” by Joseph Epstein, he talks about an Indian publication that stole material from his article about Max Beerbohm, an English comic writer. The Indian publication that plagiarized his work was “India’s Number One English Hindi News Source.” Here is Epstein’s version of his own article about Beerbohm: “Beerhohm was primarily and always an ironist, a comedian, an amused observer standing on the sidelines with a smile and a glass of wine in his hand. G. K. Chesterton said of him that ‘he does not indulge in the base idolatry of believing in himself.” Here’s the Number One English Hindi News Source version: “Beerbohm was primarily and always an ironist, a comedian, an amused observer standing on the sidelines with a smile and a glass of wine in his hand. G. K. Chesterton rightly observed of him that ‘he does not indulge in the base idolatry of believing in himself.” The sentences are very similar. The only difference is that some of the words are changed at the end of the sentence. Other than that, both sentences have the same concept. The Hindi News Source stole Epstein’s words and ideas. But, they got away with it because Epstein let it go. Epstein goes on to say that famous people like Goodwin have been caught plagiarizing. To quote Epstein: “better a lender than a borrower is.” So, in short, you can use other people’s material to help you write your own. Just don’t directly steal from their works.
I believe in honesty and recognition. When writers use sources to write their own material, they should always credit their sources. Like Ezra Pound says “Be influenced by as many great artists as you can, but have the decency to either acknowledge the debt outright, or to try to conceal it.” By acknowledging your sources, you are showing respect to the people who created those sources. In my opinion, we should hold everyone to the same standards because that shows honesty and integrity. Goodwin, Blair, and the Hindi News Source all stole ideas from their respective sources. Goodwin stole ideas from McTaggart. People saw through Goodwin’s lies by realizing that most of the sentences were identical with only a few changed words to the ones written by McTaggart. Thanks to her plagiarism, Goodwin’s credibility is destroyed. Blair, who is one of the biggest thieves of all time, stole tons of words and ideas from various writers and he fabricated all of his stories. His plagiarism and his dishonesty led to him losing his New York Times job. The Hindi News Source stole Epstein’s idea about Beerbohm. That was disrespectful because they didn’t credit him as a source. They were lucky that Epstein let it go because if he didn’t, they would’ve faced a lawsuit from him. This all proves that dishonesty can really hurt you if you decide to engage in robbing people of their work. But, if you are a truthful writer who maintains his integrity, by coming up with his own work and not stealing material from other writers, people will respect and trust you because you are an honest writer with standards. By “A Retrospect”, Pound means to look back at something. In this case, to look back at how plagiarism can destroy your credibility. Plagiarism and duplicity destroyed the reputations of Blair and Goodwin. Honest is the best policy. Both Blair and Goodwin now know that the hard way. Looking back, by being honest with people, you will build great trust and reliability with them thanks to your integrity. The only reason you would want to conceal influence is so that you don’t get caught stealing another’s work. Some people are good with this and some people aren’t. Here’s the best advice: Don’t conceal anything because liars do get caught eventually. Fate makes sure of that. So, don’t plagiarize, because if you do, you will pay for it just like Blair and Goodwin did in the end.
Blair, Jayson. Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia. 25 Sept. 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Crader, Bo. “A Historian and her Sources.” The Weekly Standard. 18 Jan. 2002
Epstein, Joseph. “Plagiary, It’s Crawling All Over Me.” The Weekly Standard. 06 Mar. 2006. 13 Oct. 2007 http://theweeklystandard.com/content/public/articles/000/000/011/923aquwd.asp
Pound, Ezra. Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, Page 5