Don't copy and paste: write your own words

The New York Times is losing more than readers these days. The newspaper once again faces an embarrassing charge of plagiarism by one of its reporters.

According to a recent post on, the Times has opened an investigation on a Wall Street and finance reporter who seemed unable to write his own stories. Zachery Kouwe has been charged with using words virtually cut and pasted from Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and other sources without attribution. The Wall Street Journal alerted the Times of Kouwe’s naughty deeds and the intrigue continues. Breitbart’s full column is available here:

The lesson for citizen journalists, not to mention the pros, is simple: WRITE YOUR OWN STUFF. It’s much easier to take the time to word your own stories than it is to suffer the shame of plagiarism.

Core value #14 of the National Association of Citizen Journalists is titled, “Shame of Plagiarism.” Here is a direct quote from the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists,” a recently published book co-authored by NACJ Head Coach Susan Carson Cormier and me.
    “Here’s the principle: Legitimate citizen journalists never plagiarize. And here are three guidelines citizen journalists can follow to avoid the shame that comes from plagiarism:

  • Always write original text. Never copy and paste someone else’s words into a story and present them as original.
  • If quoting someone, quotation marks and appropriate credit must be given.
  • Provide the correct information about the source of the quotation so readers or listeners have confidence in the research.”

If I had a bullhorn, I would use it to shout to citizen and professional journalists everywhere, “For crying out loud! Write your own stuff!”


The National Association of Citizen Journalists is calling for one million citizen journalists across the nation and around the world to be trained to fill the gap left by the diminishing impact of the mainstream media. We recruit, train and motivate citizen journalists. For more information, visit