Case study in ethics

A journalism student from Tinbucktwo University works part time at the Tinbucktwo Manufacturing Co. helping to produce the company newsletter: The Daily Motivator.  A full-time newsletter staff employee has written a story for the newsletter about the company expanding its sales force to add 20 new workers.  The student has a story deadline approaching, and the story will be posted on the class blog. Desperate to meet deadline, the student copies 90 percent of the content of the newsletter article about the expansion and uses it for his/her class story. He forgot to add the source list with contact information so the professor asks for the list. The student provides the list. Nothing happens. Another deadline is fast approaching. The student lifts content from another newsletter article about a new manufacturing line being added to the plant. The contact list is included this time. As is a habit of the professor, random sources are called to verify stories. Six sources had been used for the two class articles. Source one said he/she had not interviewed for a story. Source two, three, four, five and six said they did not interview for a story. The professor googled the topic and find the newsletters on the company’s Web site. When confronted, the student confesses. Put yourself in the place of the professor. What should happen to this student?  Check these links.



  1. I actually chekced all of my syllabi, and the classes that are writing intensive are the ones that outline the punishment for plagiarism. Eastern, and every other college, states that an automatic zero for a grade should result for anyone who plagiarizes. The students who plagiarize also have to be reported to Judicial Affairs since they violated the Student Conduct Code on academic integrity, according to my American Government syllabus. The punishment for the Tinbucktwo student is clear: he should receive an F for the course.
    Having someone get away with plagiarism is not fair to the other students who worked hard in completing their homework assignments. I myself do not like seeing others punished, especially if I’m the one who has to place the punishment on a person, but I know that I have to be fair and just in situations. I don’t think professors like to fail students, but it’s their job to grade based on the school’s standards.

    Comment by Alesha Bailey — November 15, 2009 @ 7:45 pm

  2. I believe that good people make unfortunate mistakes in stressful times. I also believe that what this student did was wrong. While the code of ethics would imply that the student should either recieve an F or be dropped from the course, sometimes professors should cut students a break. Maybe there’s more to the story then appears on the surface. Maybe the professor should dig a little deeper before making a rash decision that could ruin the students academic career. The professor should confront the student, punish them for their actions on the assignment, and give them a final warning about plagarism.

    Comment by Kaitlin Sullivan — November 15, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  3. As journalism students, we should already be familiar with the journalism code of ethics. Even if this student was under deadline pressure, he should have went to the professor and told them he/she wouldn’t have the story. Now, some professors would give the student a chance to turn it in for a heavy penalty, but this student had no right to take someone’s else work and claim it as their own. I might sound harsh on this, but doing that, he/she shouldn’t have no slack. If he/she did this in the real world of journalism, their career would be over. They need to be expelled, and possibly prosecuted to the full extend of the law. It’s students like he/she that makes it harder for journalist such as myself and others to gain trust from people. It’s bad enough we here people say we’re not journalist, or we’re not a reliable medium. If this student wants to be a journalist, they have a lot to learn, but if this profession is too much for you, there are other options they can choose from. The last impression I need is me interviewing a source and they tell me you’re from that news medium where that student got caught plagiarizing. It’s so easy to lose readers or viewers because of that. They need to be taught a lesson so they don’t do it again. It wouldn’t happen in the real world, and it shouldn’t happen in an academic setting.

    Comment by lamarhreporter — November 16, 2009 @ 12:43 am

  4. I believe that this student should be punished, based on the digression of the professor and the extreme of the plagiarism. EIU has strict rules against plagiarism that every student is aware of, most teachers talk about it on the fist day of class. It is also in the Student Handbook and in most syllabi. Students are aware of what can happen to them, which is why this student should be punished. Of course, everyone can make mistakes, which is how we learn. The professor should talk to the student to see what happened. The past assignments should defiantly be given zeros, but it goes on a case by case basis if the student should be dropped from the class. Seeing as I am from a student’s point of view I am a little biased, but students should be given the punishment the professor sees fit.

    Comment by Kristin Jording — November 16, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

  5. Plagiarism in school is very serious. If a journalism student plagiarizes in school what will he do when he goes out to the real world? It looks like that student has developed a pattern of stealing someone else’s work. The only way to stop this student from developing a habit of taking someone’s work and taking credit for it is to put that student on academic probation and if this happens again the student should be suspended from school. In journalism it is a very serious violation of ethics to takes someone’s work and uses it as your own. If the student is caught and punished early it will benefit him in the future.

    Comment by Michael Stopka — November 16, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  6. I believe that the student should be punished for plagiarizing. The student should receive and F in the class or be dropped from the class. If the teacher did not punish the student it would be like the teacher approved of plagiarism and the student would not learn from his/her mistake. As a journalist and a student we are told that you need to get your own information or give credit where credit is due. I think the student could have avoided this situation by talking to his teacher. Everyone knows school is stressful and that there is a lot of work to do but if he/she talked to his teacher that teacher may have given the student an extension or helped the student so the student did not have to take work from someone else. Plagiarism is very serious and should not be taken lightly and I believe that if you get caught you should suffer the consequences no matter what the situation.

    Comment by Beth Steele — November 17, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

  7. I think it is wrong what the student did and he/she should know better. I think the student should be punished for his/her actions. I think he/she should get a zero for the assignment and should have to speak with someone at the school (someone high up in the college) to seek further punishment. I don’t think the student should get kicked out of school but I do feel he/she should be punished. As a journalism major the student should know that plagiarism is wrong and that he/she shouldn’t ever plagiarize. I also think The Daily Motivator should also take further actions to make sure the student never plagiarizes again. So not only does the student get in trouble with the college, he/she should be in trouble with The Daily Motivator as well.

    Comment by slbilharz — November 18, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

  8. I understand the pressure of meeting a deadline, but what the student did was still wrong. Double dipping is sloppy and careless. Not to mention, he didn’t actually interview anyone for his story. If he cracks under pressure for one class, what makes you think he won’t cave and do it again in the workforce. A few years ago it was discovered that two students from MIT plagarized one of their papers and their degrees were taken away from them. The student should be considered lucky if he is not kicked out of school. And he could have avoided this whole situation by talking to the professor and asking for an extension. Some professors will be understanding.

    Comment by Kaitlyn — November 19, 2009 @ 12:22 am

  9. Whether or not someone is under pressure of a deadline, or not, it never gives an individual the right to copy someone else’s hard work. This is ethically wrong and the professor should make the student pay for his actions. I student clearly took the wrong way out and he should have to pay for his actions. Either the professor should completely fail the student, or give him an endless amount of work to complete to allow him something to prove that he wants to pass the course. Since he got away the first time, that allowed him the mindset that he could do it once again. The professor was wrong in the first place for not confronting him about his first newsletter. Since being a journalist is all about honesty and ethics, the student truly should be failed, it just honestly depends on how nice and understanding the professor is. Although, what he did was completely unacceptable.

    Comment by Colleen H — November 19, 2009 @ 2:35 am

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