We are concerned with the health of journalism at one of our member papers, The Concordian. The publication has failed to publicly recognize plagiarism, as defined by Canadian law, despite multiple requests from Canadian University Press.
We strongly encourage The Concordian’s editorial staff and/or Board of Directors to reissue the retraction of the “unintentional similarities” between co-news editor Tim Weynerowski’s article and CUP’s Quebec Bureau Chief Kalina Laframboise’s article. We ask that the error is identified as plagiarism, as defined by Canadian law, and for a public apology, not just “regrets.” To do so would be the responsible and transparent way to make the best of an unfortunate situation.
Plagiarism constitutes a major breach in ethical standards. People have lost their careers, or at least their academic term, as a consequence of plagiarism and we feel a public apology is a necessary part of an admission of plagiarism.
The fact that we find ourselves in a situation where we even have to ask The Concordian to reissue its retraction is unfortunate. We were assured on Jan. 14 that a formal apology and retraction “for having allowed, through oversight, plagiarized material to be published in our paper” would be forthcoming. Due to this email, we were surprised and disappointed to see no apology and no mention of plagiarism in the retraction published Jan. 20.
To CUP, the wronged parties in this situation are Quebec Bureau Chief Kalina Laframboise and The Concordian’s readership. By omitting the term “plagiarism” in a retraction and not issuing a direct, public apology, it is our opinion that The Concordian is jeopardizing its credibility and integrity along with the trust of both its readers and the Quebec Bureau Chief, whose job it is to work with CUP members in the Quebec region.
As CUP does not hold any authority over the internal processes or human resources decisions of its members, our options are like that of any media outlet — bring a complaint to the provincial press council or obtain legal representation. At this time we do not wish to initiate either action against one of our own members and we hope that by releasing this statement, we can publicly appeal to The Concordian and thereby prompt them to reissue their retraction.
We’ll be waiting for an apology and a proper admission of what occurred. CUP is also reviewing The Concordian’s articles in comparison to Laframboise’s work over the course of this academic year and we are taking steps to ensure all CUP members understand what constitutes plagiarism.
Erin Hudson, president and Brendan Kergin, National Bureau Chief of Canadian University Press
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The following is the public statement The Concordian’s Board of Directors issued on Jan. 22:
The Concordian received an e-mail alleging similarities between Ms. Laframboise’s original article for Canadian University Press and a later article by Tim Weynerowski which appeared in The Concordian. Upon examining the claims, The Concordian’s editor-in-chief Amanda Shore apologized on behalf of the newspaper to Ms. Laframboise and promised a notice would be run in our next issue.
Mr. Weynerowski told The Concordian that he did not deliberately plagiarize Ms. Laframboise’s work, and produced supporting evidence to that effect. In the absence of evidence of willful plagiarism from Mr. Weynerowski, The Concordian used the language that most accurately represented what had happened. In addition, along with a printed apology in our Jan. 21 issue, the first published since the allegations arose, Ms. Laframboise’s original article was published in full, alongside the relevant paragraphs in Mr. Weynerowski’s later article, so that our readers were as well informed as possible.