Chris Arnold of 105.3 The Fan and CBS Fort Worth committed one of the most blatant acts of plagiarism recently seen in sports media. Arnold lifted nearly an entire article on Tony Romo from a Football Outsiders writer.
Surely Arnold was disciplined and removed from his post for committing one of the worst crimes in journalism, right? Not quite. Arnold received a suspension which lasted all of one week according to Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News. He's set to resume his regular duties this week.
Is this how we should treat plagiarizers? Is this the message we should be teaching to aspiring journalists?
We've seen plenty of plagiarism incidents over the years. Few are as obvious as the one committed by Arnold. Usually writers change a few words or at least add in some of their own thoughts to mask the fact the bulk of the content has been stolen. In Arnold's case, he didn't even bother hiding the fact that he was wearing out the copy/paste function on his computer.
When he was busted for plagiarism by the original author, Arnold backed off and claimed he enjoyed the author's work. Apparently not enough to actually cite a source or give credit where it was due. He clearly failed to realize that what he was doing was a big no-no. Maybe he just knew that his employers wouldn't take it seriously.
Does Arnold's punishment fit the crime? One week off sounds like more of a vacation than a punishment for stealing the work of others. The punishment does little to detract Arnold from doing similar things in the future and it conveys an ugly message to aspiring journalists that plagiarism isn't that big of a deal.