Friday, March 9, 2007

Borges: Wrong, sloppy and not Jayson Blair

(Click here to listen to this entry online.)

The blogosphere (which, up here in Boston, has never been much of a fan of the Globe's Ron Borges) might have claimed his job last week when this site reported immense similarities between a football notes column he authored and that of a Tacoma writer, Mike Sando.

Passages in Borges' piece are unquestionably, damningly similar to bits of Sando's writing, which appeared in print first. A few words have been changed, but it's in the typical style of plagiarism -- no difference in meaning, and only enough in language to potentially throw off a Google search.

Still, is Borges a classic plagiarist? It's touchy.

According to the Globe's March 6 mea culpa, "Borges is a subscriber to an online notes exchange used by NFL writers, who share information with one another in advance of Sunday notebook columns that run in many newspapers." I've talked to someone who makes his living covering the Patriots about this, and he told me that using information from such services, where writers voluntarily post raw information and sometimes entire notes entries, is wide-spread and acceptable. Apparently, the catches are simply:

1. Don't rip off someone else's lede item and use it as your own.

2. Don't use something verbatim, especially if it could make it into print.

So, yes, Borges was painfully sloppy in his writing and reporting. But, at the same time, he didn't simply pop up a browser, search for "Seahawks News" and put what he found into print. Call him a bad reporter, just don't call him a plagiarist.

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