Monday, 13 August 2012

When the high and mighty commit the unforgivable sin

Just like in Christianity, there is the unforgivable sin, in journalism it is perhaps plagiarism. And when it is an internationally celebrated columnist and television show host from one of the internationally reputable media networks, it is akin to an angel coming down from heaven to dine with the Devil. Fareed Zakaria, who writes a regular commentary in TIME magazine and hosts Fareed Zakaria GPS, a world affairs show on CNN, was suspended after plagiarism was uncovered in an article he wrote on gun control. A paragraph in Zakaria’s article “The Case for Gun Control” was suspiciously similar to an earlier feature by Jill Lepore, a history professor at Harvard University. The similarity was picked up the Mediabusters website and quickly spread across cyberspace forcing Zakaria to apologise for the “lapse” (Apparently, it was not the first time as this note shows). Born in India in 1964, Zakaria is now an American citizen who holds a Bachelor’s degree from Yale College and a PhD from Harvard University, and has received various honours for his work which includes as a best-selling author. Now, all that could come crashing down because of a mere paragraph. Will he ever get past that? For the journalism fraternity in Uganda, it is a point to ponder: How many of our journalists are plagiarising other people’s work?

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