Reflector responds to apparent plagiarism
Something odd happened to me last week.
One of my stories was apparently plagiarized.
My story about Councilor Tom Mielke’s recall petition against three other councilors ran online on June 28, just hours after the Republican filed his petition with the Clark County Elections Office.
A week later, The Reflector published Joanna Yorke’s story on the same subject. In places, her version was verbatim to mine, and in others, it was strikingly similar. We at The Columbian could only conclude that the senior reporter had plagiarized my story.
After we brought our concerns to The Reflector, the newspaper’s leadership agreed. This week, the paper ran a front-page story announcing the reporter had been fired, as well as an editorial by Lafromboise Communications President Christine Fossett.
“The similarities of the story, and in several paragraphs, the exact same wording, is an example of a poor decision by a member of our staff,” Fossett wrote in that editorial.
I couldn’t help but be struck by the irony of the situation. There is a group in this community that would swear up and down they never read The Columbian, claiming to read the Battle Ground weekly exclusively for local news.
I guess, in this case, that isn’t so true after all.
That aside, Fossett handled the matter with professional courtesy and grace. Every week, journalists are tasked with shining a spotlight on public officials. It’s rare – and incredibly uncomfortable – when that spotlight is turned around on us. But I appreciate The Reflector’s integrity and commitment to hold itself to the same standard we demand from others.