This past summer a student at the UF College of Journalism was caught plagiarizing the New York Times at her newspaper internship in Colorado. The story is old news by now and places like Gawker and Brazen Careerist have already covered her scandal. No one can argue that what she did was wrong (the plagiarizing was practically word for word), the debate is really about whether the Gazette in Colorado Springs should have named her.
Andy Hutchins wrote on his blog – in response to Hailey deleting all her social media accounts (blog, Twitter and Facebook) – “Why not control your own news cycle?… Playing the ostrich and hiding your head in the sand makes you look guilty and fearful.”
Andy makes an excellent point and I love the ostrich-in-the-sand image. The internet in all its glory means that Hailey will never escape her mistake. It sucks, it really does, and regardless of my disgust for what she did, this will always identify her when, 10 years from now, she’ll (hopefully) be a completely different person.
However, what she should be doing is keeping up her blog and Twitter account. Yeah, she’ll get a lot more hate mail, but she could totally be using these platforms to her advantage. Unfortunately, while obviously lacking any kind of honor/morals, the girl seems to be missing some common sense.
This all being said, I’m curious why exactly she did what she did. Apparently she’s a very talented writer all on her own and held a variety of awesome internships. Was it stress? Low self esteem? Hailey was fired (and subsequently expelled?) from school and I’m not entirely sure she’s deserving of all the hate. Though I do want to stress again how much I (obviously) disagree with what she did. The problem is though, no one outside of whatever friends she has left can ever really understand what exactly happened. And instead of explaining herself she ran away. The beauty of social media is that it allows us to control our own public image and Hailey just made it worse by hiding.
So Hailey, I would very much like to interview you. I invite you to email me at maschembari (at) gmail (dot) com and maybe give your side of the story. I await with bated breath!
p.s. I also have a “Dear Gazette” – Are you all idiots? Who lets a college student write huge stories and doesn’t fact check before publication? Hailey may be in the wrong, but at the end of the day it was your responsibility to mentor. Awesome job.