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What I am losing sleep over: #3 Plagiarism, fabrication

So far, I've told you I'm losing sleep over math and privacy and fairness.

Neither of those are simple issues. And neither is the next one, but it's easier for me to handle because it's just so flat-out wrong.

No. 3: Plagiarism and fabrication I worry that while I'm looking up the right abbreviation for Montana, something far more insidious is getting past me: Plagiarism or fabrication.

An editor in the recent Jayson Blair documentary said every newspaper has had a case of plagiarism or fabrication; we're fools if we think we're immune. I agree.

Blair said, in the documentary, that once he figured out he could get away with it, there was nothing to stop him.

That screams to me how important it is that editors be on guard.

We have long been the ethical backbone of our publications. Our gatekeeper role is now more important than ever.

It's just too easy to steal info off the web (and it is theft). As editors, we're flying through content so fast that we don't have a chance to catch what we used to. Or we're worried about losing our jobs so we don't want to make waves.

Adding to the danger is the fact that many of us are now in editing in hubs far from towns and reporters we know. That makes spotting a lie or stolen material all harder.

The things that keep me up more at night are the things I didn't do, not the things I've done. The mistakes I let get by me or didn't have the nerve to fight.

These two, more than any other issues, really make me angry. You might make a mistake with number.

You might make an error in judgment on identifying a crime victim. But most cases of plagiarism involve an intent to steal; all cases of fabrication involve an intent to deceive.

Plagiarism and fabrication are crimes against our credibility. We should all be losing sleep over that.

Footnote: ACES held a summit to fight plagiarism and fabrication. We published a free ebook with tips on how to prevent that you can download free here

Coming tomorrow: Pun headlines

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