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A response to Justin Kane's letter to The Daily Gazette

In today's issue of The Daily Gazette, Justin Kane, Publisher of The Phoenix, responded to the an article published by the Gazette yesterday that dealt with the Phoenix's plagiarism of my ML history webpage. You can find his response at http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/org/daily/archive/fall_2001/20011010/letters.html - check it out if you haven't already.

I'd like to respond to his article point-by-point.

"...Phoenix editor Deirdre Conner '03 or other Phoenix staff were not asked to comment on many of the concerns David Bing '03 shared in the Daily Gazette yesterday..."

This is a blatantly false assertion. In the original Gazette article (not available online), Dee Conner was interviewed by a reporter for the Gazette, Alexis Reedy, and had the opportunity to say whatever she wanted. She, along with the rest of the Phoenix staff, had been made aware of all my remaining concerns when I sent them an email at 3:11 p.m. last Monday afternoon detailing exactly what they were. I do not know when Dee was interviewed by Alexis, but I believe she had sufficient time to inform the Gazette that she wanted to make additional comments before the article was published in Tuesday morning's edition. Furthermore, Justin fails to consider that Alexis did not tell me either what she was asking Dee, or what Dee's responses were, thus placing me in approximately the same situation that Dee was in when I gave my interview. It seems unreasonable to assert that the Phoenix should have been allowed to know what my responses to the questions were without telling me what their answers were, as well.

"Had she been asked, Conner would have further noted that disagreement after Bing's second e-mail focused not on whether the article was an act of plagiarism but on the appropriate course of action to take in this situation."
Once again, this is not true. As seen at the end of the second email I sent the Phoenix, I specifically asked them to deny that they had committed an act of plagiarism: "I'd like you to deny, in good conscience and if you can, that this is an instance of plagiarism by a writer for the Phoenix." In the Phoenix's fifth email to me (removed from my website at the request of the Phoenix's editor), they admit that "...The Phoenix has indeed committed a grave mistake," substantially less than a denial that they had committed plagiarism. When I met with representatives from the Phoenix on Tuesday night, they told me that the "grave mistake" was their failure to cite my website as a source for their article and assured me that they had not committed plagiarism. Not once did I have any input into what the "appropriate course of action" was; the dispute was over whether or not the Phoenix had committed plagiarism.

"...The Phoenix took the highly unusual step of allowing Bing to read - and agree to - the newspaper's apology and correction before it was printed."
On Wednesday night, about three hours before The Phoenix had to go to press, Dee emailed me with a copy of the apology and correction that they were going to print. I took issue with three parts of the apology - their claims that I simply researched my webpage rather than researched and wrote it, that they used two additional sources other than my webpage in the writing of their article, and that the plagiarism was unintentional. The Phoenix addressed my first concern and altered their apology accordingly, but Dee dismissed the last two concerns and indicated that it would not be changed. Had they agreed to making those changes then, none of us would be in the current situation we find ourselves in now. Furthermore, if one wanted to nitpick, it's worth noting that the apology and correction the Phoenix emailed to me on Wednesday night was slightly different from what was published in Thursday's paper - there was no major change of content, but some wordings were altered.

"No one stood to benefit from this plagiarism - not the author, not The Phoenix, not Bing, not the readers. During the course of The Phoenix's investigation of the incident, it became clear that the author bore no malice toward Bing and had no reasons to commit this act of plagiarism. ... Thus, as the printed apology stated, the plagiarism was unintentional."
First of all, if no one stood to benefit from this plagiarism, then why did Seth Sias plagiarize the article in the first place, and why did The Phoenix publish an article that it would not benefit from? Furthermore, while it is nice to know that the author bore no malice towards me, disliking another person is not a prerequisite for plagiarizing their work.

Both of these points are fairly irrelevant, though. Intentional plagiarism consists of taking another person's writings and presenting them as your own work, which is what Seth clearly did. Even if he truly didn't consider it to be plagiarism at the time, it does not make his plagiarism 'unintentional' or any less deliberately executed.

"It is unfortunate that the Gazette's report to the campus on an important journalistic error was considered complete without including The Phoenix's response to Bing's contentions..."
Once again, there is no reason that The Phoenix should have been told what my responses to the Gazette interviewer were before the article's publication without reciprocally telling me what The Phoenix's response to her questions were and allowing me to modify my statements, as well.

I believe that the 'contentions' that Justin was referring to were the three questions I emailed to The Phoenix on Monday afternoon. It is unfortunate that Justin wanted the answers to those questions to be included in today's edition of The Daily Gazette, as The Phoenix did not email me those answers until 1:37 this afternoon, well after the Gazette had been sent out.

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