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USA Today and the Art of Citing Sources

The great Romensko writes about a small kerfuffle involving Scott Bateman (known as @Disalmanacarian), the esteemed USA Today and a little known act of plagiarism. But wait, we have pictures:

A tale of two weather maps, and evidently, USA Today’s graphics team were snowed in by the dreaded Polar Vortex, so they “borrowed” this map. These meteorological twinkies caused quite the fracas via social media, which caused David Callaway, USA Today’s editor-in-chief to chime in. After the jump, read that and a few other notes…

 Callaway offers his readers the following:

Mr. Bateman’s map was an inspiration for an effort that fell short of our newsroom publishing standards. As soon as we realized our oversight, we took immediate action to correct our mistake. We apologized to Mr. Bateman and are addressing the situation both internally and externally to give the artist the credit he deserves and to set the record straight for our readers. We do not take these incidents lightly.

PlagiarismNeither do most people, but it happens all the time — in papers, in reports and in social media.

At PRNewser, we love our flacky and journo fans, but the one thing we love more than that is ethics. Regretfully, although Twitter is where real news goes to be broken first — people RT, star and comment on posts that reflect Jerry Springer rather than Walter Cronkite.

Translation: The drama gets the ratings. To wit, if drama gets ratings, we understand why some sources deal with just linking without citing. They get the ratings too.

Without naming names and taking screen shots, there are ample Twits out there who love sharing stories and opining aloud via the Twitter. That said, while the story description is interesting and truly encourages someone to click on a non-descript bit.ly, ow.ly or goo.gl link, would it kill ya’ to type “VIA <<@SOURCE>>“?!

While USA Today may need to brush up on the sacrosanct ethics of “When to Cite Sources,” the PR industry may want to consider it just doing your homies a solid. If it is your intellectual property, brag all day. We’ll even help if we enjoyed it. If it wasn’t your original writing, but you dig it, give a shout out.

It’s the very least you could do.

And since this is not a dramatic post, I’d like to thank the three people for the likes and my mother for the retweet. We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled click-bait program tomorrow.

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