Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Incident? That's One Word For It ...

News organizations and blogs alike have picked up on the Couric plagiarism flap. Couric herself has yet to say anything about the matter. I watched her broadcast tonight and thought she'd acknowledge the story at the bottom of her broadcast. But she didn't.

Perhaps she doesn't think the story merits any mention. Perhaps she thinks that most of her audience isn't aware. And maybe she's right. Maybe we news-type folk are the only ones who care.

But any comment from CBS is better than no comment from CBS, and so then, this is the latest from the Public Eye area of

- snip-

More Details About "Couric & Co." Incident
Posted by Brian Montopoli

Yesterday, I posted an item about the "Couric & Co." blog apologizing for an "omission" involving the April 4 installment of "Katie Couric's Notebook." The Notebook, which has been removed from the site, bore striking similarities to a Jeffrey Zaslow piece in the Wall Street Journal, though no acknowledgment was made of Zaslow's work.

Today, new details have been made public. The first, and most significant, is that a producer has been fired over the incident. In the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz compared passages from the Zaslow piece and the Notebook.

The Notebook, he noted, included this: "For kids today, the library is more removed from their lives. It's a last-ditch place to go if they need to find something out." Zaslow, meanwhile, had written this: "The library is more removed from their lives. It's a last-ditch place to go if they need to find something out."

There has also been some discussion of the language in the Editor's Note, specifically the use of the word "omission." Writes Regret The Error: "This is a case of plagiarism, not omission." The site also expresses "hope this incident will inspire CBS to create an online corrections page and policy." We discussed how CBS deals with corrections last year.

In the comments section of my initial post, joycewest wrote this: "I didn't realize Katie Couric didn't always write the 'Katie Couric's Notebook' herself. Maybe I am naive, assuming that 'Posted by' means 'Written by,' but I wonder how many other people didn't know that?"

Couric has significant involvement in the Notebooks, though she does not write all of them. Every week, she meets with producers to go over ideas and discuss possible themes. Sometimes, she then writes the pieces herself; in other cases, a producer writes them, after which Couric edits and tapes them. In the case of the April 4 piece, Couric was involved in choosing the topic, though she did not write the piece herself.

Newsweek reported that this "episode started last week, when Couric and the show’s producers gathered for a regular weekly meeting to discuss possible topics for the 'Notebook.'” That's not the case: Couric was on vacation last week, and the April 4 Notebook was pre-taped to run while she was away.

Zaslow has said he is satisfied with CBS' handling of the incident. He is quoted in the Post saying CBS "been very gracious and apologetic, and we at the Journal appreciate it."

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Maybe that's why Katie's been mum: Jeff says he's satisfied, so why say anything further?

Because the credibility of an international news organization is on the line. Sure, CBS was quick to dispatch the offending producer, but Katie is the Harry Truman of CBS News. The buck stops with her.


Blogger Marc said...

Wait a minute! Katie Couric has credibility? When the hell did that happen?? She's really really good at reading a teleprompter, but a "reporter"? Ha.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Cute, Marc.

Think of her like the president: She doesn't really do the work, but everyone thinks she's in charge. She's the one at the big important desk talking to us on the TV.

4:49 PM  

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