Is plagiarism a problem? Is there a solution?
By Carolyn Schurr Levin
with the research assistance of Paola Guzman
The article raised red flags immediately. The topic was studying tips for final exams. The student writers on the staff love pitching this type of “list” assignment. The stories do not entail a lot of investigative reporting and are relatively easy to write. The school newspaper  publishes them routinely. But, this one didn’t sound right to the faculty adviser, when she read it as part of her weekly newspaper laboratory course . The story included sentences like, “Leave yourself ample time.” The adviser’s students simply did not use the word “ample.” So, she plugged the story into a free online plagiarism checker, something that she does not routinely do when she reads stories written by the students in her class. Within minutes, she found the blog post that the story was copied from, essentially verbatim.
The adviser emailed the student, a senior broadcasting major poised to graduate from college in a mere few weeks, and asked her to stop by the adviser’s office before class the following morning. The student inquired in her email response about the purpose of the meeting. The adviser told her that she had some concerns about the story submitted that week.
The adviser and the student met the next morning in the adviser’s office. The adviser showed the student her story, side-by-side with the blog from which it had been copied, with the identical paragraphs highlighted in yellow. The student looked at both, wide eyed, and said unflinchingly, “We can’t do that?”