Florida Media Outlet Guilty of Plagiarism
In an exclusive investigation, TV20 has uncovered evidence that a North Central Florida magazine systematically plagiarized the writing of other people over the course of several years.
There is evidence that the editor of Ocala Magazine, Heather Lee, has regularly used sometimes-lengthy passages written by other people in stories that carry her byline. More than 20 instances of plagiarism within the pages of award-winning ocala magazine have been uncovered dating back to 2004. Chunks of articles from Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair Magazine, Esquire, and other publications have appeared in their pages with no attribution.
University of Florida plagiarism expert Dr. Norman Lewis says plagiarism this extensive doesn't happen very often.
"What it appears to be, and i've only looked through about half of the material," said Lewis, "is a systematic effort to use other people's words without attribution."
In an article in Ocala Magazine dated February 27th, 2006, Magazine Editor Heather Lee wrote "not since the jesus movement of the early '70s ..."
In a Christianity Today article from November 2004, Andy Crouch also wrote "not since the jesus movement of the early 1970's ..."
Crouch says that line, and several paragraphs worth of other lines, were stolen.
"It's outrageous because it's just wrong," said Crouch, "it's taking credit for someone else's work, but it's sad because it means that she allowed her the pressures of deadline or the need to turn in something interesting or whatever to take shortcuts."
We contacted Lee and the publisher of Ocala magazine, Linda Marks. They did not deny the plagiarism, but wrote in a statement, "like most media outlets today, we look to the internet to research our content. If there have been any instances in the 30 years of our publication where a source was not credited, or not credited properly, it was done unintentionally."
Ocala Magazine recently won several awards in the Society of Professional Journalists "Florida Awards of Excellence" competition. Chapter President Ana-Klara Anderson says SPJ would rescind the awards if the results of their investigation match ours.
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