The Washington Post

Shafer: Leave the newsroom if you feel pressured

In a fun chat on the Poynter.org site, Reuters media mind Jack Shafer takes on all comers regarding plagiarism, a topic news-pegged by last week’s scandal at Politico. The moderators asks Shafer: How can editors ”talk about how journalists can better handle the pressures they face, and how they can readjust their work habits?”

Shafer responds:

Fear works. Workshops help. But I don’t think pressure causes plagiarism. When I was an editor, I put so much pressure on my young reporters that some of them turned into diamonds. Yet they did not commit plagiarism (as far as I know). Again, if the pressure of the newsroom is too much for you, leave the newsroom.

Much as I respect Shafer’s moral absolutism on the topic of plagiarism, his leave-the-newsroom solution is no solution at all.

Does he really expect a young journo who appears to like her job and her colleagues to show the self-awareness to up and leave the joint in the midst of a bad job market? Not realistic.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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