Plagiarism

After publishing the Open Times Hack Day post, I received a lot of love, and excitedly opened an email addressed from Marci Windsheimer of the New York Times! Her email started with an exclaimed Hello! And continued to express how much her organization loves external New York Times coverage, then she accused me of plagiarism and avoided threats through suggestive compliance language. The thing is, she was right; by the very definition of the word, I had lifted text and re-appropriated it for event background in my opening paragraph. I learned two important lessons in the hours that followed.

The first lesson was composure, disavowing my first instinct to explain a misguided shortcut, in favor of accepting my error. I quickly responded to request judgmental leniency, and confirmed my immediate resolve to correct the mistake. Edits were quickly made, each blog was updated shortly thereafter, and links were re-issued with explanations to affected outlets.

The second lesson was exposure, specifically to the cold reality of business. Allow me to reference the words of William Butler Yeats: But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. My responses to Marci included my possible desire to work at the New York Times pertaining to Journalism or Technology, that I deeply respected their organization, and felt fortunate to merely receive communication originating from within their walls. After completing a rewrite of the original paragraph and sending it off for her review, all I received was a two worded thank you, consisting of the words, “Thank you.” After addressing me like a fifteen year old girl with exclamation points and the word love, releasing dopamine and conveying feelings she quickly shattered, I felt something besides thanked. I felt as if she were a machine that erroneously labeled me something since it happened upon the exception instead of the rule, without getting to know me or any more of my work. In return, as much as I professionally appreciate the corporate policy correspondence, I personally look forward to an opportunity to leave Marci with two words that aren’t thank you – save the “you.”

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