CBS says Couric unaware video essay plagiarized

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric may vividly recall her first library card, but the network says she was unaware that her online video essay about the virtues of libraries was largely a work of plagiarism.

CBS News said this week that the April 4 installment of Katie Couric's Notebook consisted mostly of passages lifted verbatim from a Wall Street Journal column by Jeffrey Zaslow that was published in March.

The producer responsible for Couric's piece was fired Monday night, hours after the Journal contacted CBS News to complain, network spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said Tuesday.

The essay was immediately removed from the CBS News Web site, and a correction was posted in its place. The network did not identify the producer who was fired.

Although the text for the minute-long video was written in first person--introduced by Couric with the line, "I still remember when I got my first library card"--Couric did not compose the piece herself and was unaware that much of it was plagiarized, Genelius said.

"She was stunned, and very upset," Genelius said Wednesday. "It's the same reaction we all had."

The mishap comes as CBS continues to lag in third place in the network news ratings, behind ABC and NBC, seven months after Couric's much-ballyhooed debut as the first woman solo anchor of a major US evening newscast--for a salary reportedly worth $15 million a year.

Couric, who gained celebrity status cohosting America's top-ranked morning show Today on NBC for 15 years, has had no comment of her own on the plagiarism episode.

Some Internet-based media watchers took issue with the language CBS used in its correction, which acknowledged that "much of the material" in Couric's piece "came from Mr. Zaslow" without attribution, but referred to the transgression as "an omission."

"This is a case of plagiarism, not omission," wrote the Web site Regret the Error, which reports on issues of accuracy and ethics in the media.

The author of The Daily Background blog, Arlen Parsa, faulted Couric for letting others write her own commentaries, a practice that Parsa said in this instance resulted in "a double case of plagiarism."

Genelius said Couric met with a group of producers weekly to discuss upcoming topics for her Notebook video essays, and "she does write some of them herself."

"Sometimes the text is written by the producer," she added. "That's the way television generally works. It's a very collaborative medium."

Zaslow was reported satisfied with CBS News' handling of the situation. The Washington Post quoted him as saying that CBS has "been very gracious and apologetic, and we at the Journal appreciate it."

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The problem as I see it is in the "cult of personality" where our news is fed to us by those we find attractive enough, witty enough, with smooth voices and make us feel "connected" to them. We are so distanced from the ideal that our news and information comes to us from objective sources and we remain ever surprised when mistakes such as this one come out.

Not writing your own material as a "news reader" (and that is what most anchors are these days) is understandable, however, beginning such pieces with "I remember..." statements that are not true is a farce.

The words of Edward R. Murrow ring more true today than they did when he first uttered them. As long as we stand by and largely shrug our collective shoulders at such instances, the less likely we are to ever see any shred of integrity return to journalism.

The only difference between us and those we feel suffer under regimes such as Communism is that we are far less honest in our propaganda. I say this as a Canadian who has been posted to Beijing China for the past 4 years. At least over here we know the agenda behind those feeding us our information.

What is happening back home (Canada and the USA) is far more sinister (and thus, far more dangerous).

Think about it.
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The problem here, SpikeUndead is what you're calling a "journalist". There are journalists who research and write stuff, they just don't appear onscreen reading it out loud. Because, you know, the fact that you can write and research a story doesn't mean you look good or have a nice voice. Besides, both things tend to take lots of time to do (look good AND research stuff), so it's best if you divide the workload. On the other hand, the opposite is also true. Today it's expected from TV reporters to be able to go on location, record some images, go back, edit them together, write and read the voiceover. They don't get more credit than the anchors and big names who are big enough to be expected to appear onscreen for a full hour talking all the time, instead of using the same amount of time in putting together a whole 30 second segment. You guys just don't realize how much hard work is behind each second of air time.
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Not a big deal. The main thing is that the video segment was informative. As long as they identified the original writer of the story I don't see any problems.
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Whatever happened to journalists actually being journalists and researching and writing their own stuff? I don't care if it's considered common practice to have a team of people write segments and stories, it's still pathetic. That's why stupid mistakes like this keep happening. Because so-called "journalists" aren't doing their own work. Then again, it's Katie Couric. So I shouldn't be surprised. She's proved that she's nothing more than a morning talk show host who got lucky. Why don't they just have Jillian Barberie come in and be her sidekick.
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Why am I not surprised? Well old Dan Rather is over on HDNET for much the same thing, using plagiarized material. $15 mil for last place...
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wow can we say nothing but a puppet
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Oh Katie, do I smell pants on fire?
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Nobody, repeat after me, nobody on TV writes their own stuff. At most they are there when the final ok about what has been written is given, and that's assuming the person in question has a background on writing and shows interest in having more creative control. It's like complaining about how bricklayers don't design the walls they build. I mean, stand up comedians don't write their stuff. TV anchors don't write their stuff. Politicians, damnit, don't even write their own stuff.

This whole thing is amusing, though.
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It's nice to see that Couric is earning her 15 mil a year by writing her own stuff. Lol. If you are going to copy something, do so from an obscure text, not a major national newspaper! It's like copying from the encyclopedia.... Someone will find out!
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