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Media Watch

A Stranger in Town

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You know by now that Don Goldwater, nephew of long-time GOP icon Barry Goldwater, joined the governor's race Aug. 2, announcing his quest for the Republican nomination in Tucson, Sun City West and Flagstaff.

Strangely enough, both local dailies "took wire" on Nephew Don's announcement at Sun City West. The Tucson Citizen used an Associated Press story, while Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services fed the Arizona Daily Star with an assist from Star political writer C.J. Karamargin.

The Star reported that the speeches were "virtually identical" in the three cities. The Citizen's version said nothing local.

That's kinda surprising, given that Karamargin's Aug. 1 political notebook raised a fair question: Other than the family name, what does Don Goldwater bring to the race?

Even a few notes about the local announcement would have given readers a better sense of the man--and an early glimpse at his campaign's viability. When a primary is this wide open, you almost have to look at it like you're watching the Sharks and Jets getting ready to rumble. You take a head count and see how much muscle each gang's bringing down the alley.

In this case: How many people showed up in Tucson, and were any of them power players in local GOP circles? Were any county party executives there, and if so, did they seem enthusiastic about him or merely polite? Who's the local aide-de-camp, if any, and how prominent/respected is that person among party insiders.


AN EARLY VACATION?

It was a bit startling to open the Arizona Daily Star editorial page last Saturday (Aug. 6) and find Tom Teepen smiling out from the space normally occupied by Molly Ivins.

I'd missed the warning memo on the Aug. 4 editorial page. Ivins and Maureen Dowd were on vacation. Dowd will be back Aug. 16, and Ivins will return in September.

Well, that's OK--except for one thing: Maybe the Star sent her on vacation a week ahead of schedule. She's distributed by Creators Syndicate, and the syndicate's Web site includes an Ivins column marked "For Release, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005 or thereafter."


SPEAKING OF RECYCLING...

We have some leftovers from last week's discussion on the possibility that Ann Coulter's touch-typing style sometimes employs "highlight, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V." Her column is a conservative anchor on the Star's Saturday morning editorial page.

An upset reader rebuked me for not warning people that Rude Pundit's moniker severely understates the vulgarity of his writing style. She's right. I should have. It's pretty nasty stuff. Mea maxima culpa.

A couple of readers said they didn't understand why plagiarism was an issue.

We often think of plagiarism in big ways--college kids buying "homework help" from an online term paper mill, or the "subconscious copying" ex-Beatle George Harrison said caused him to unknowingly turn The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" into "My Sweet Lord"

It's also the small stuff--a paragraph here and there, data for a pie chart somewhere else. Plagiarism is about both the idea and the language by which it's conveyed.

In Coulter's case, some of the material isn't adequately sourced. She puts quotes around a description of a controversial exhibit at the Smithsonian, but doesn't tell you who/what she's quoting. Is it a museum statement or a critic's description?

Her problem with paraphrasing is the most obvious issue: It's not enough to change a verb tense, delete a comma or use a couple of synonyms, as she's done in the example below. Paraphrasing requires the writer to rewrite the sentence in a way that eliminates as much of the source's sentence structure as possible while retaining the gist of the original source's information.

Here's an example from The Raw Story's comparison of Coulter's June 29 column with a Jan. 24, 1995 column by Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe:"

Jacoby: "... inserted a speculum into her vagina and called up audience members to examine her cervix with a flashlight."

Coulter: "... inserting a speculum into her vagina and inviting audience members on stage to view her cervix with a flashlight."

Is it plagiarism? Let's just say that at most major universities, the minimal differences between Coulter's work and Jacoby's earlier writing would at least start an academic integrity investigation.


AMPHIBIOUS REPORTING

As someone who's written a few stories about folks who drowned because they drove into flooded arroyos, I felt the Star did a great public service with Anne Minard's first-person account of getting swamped.

Back when Tucson had more rain and more dips than box culverts, we used to chuckle at this irony: It seemed that the vast majority of drivers who got swamped were locals.

It might be nice if the Star gave ADOT reprint rights to include Minard's description of water coming through the door when it revises the driver's license manual.


TNI'S LAST UNION FALLS

Press room employees at Tucson Newspapers, the agency that oversees advertising, production and circulation operations for the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Citizen, decertified Local 56-M of the Graphic Communications International Union in a July 15 vote.

Union officials have not responded to telephone calls and e-mail requests for information. Workers were operating under a contract that would expire next year. In April, the union notified TNI that it was ready to start talks on a new pact.

In February, distribution center workers rejected union representation.

The union had represented Tucson press workers for several decades, initially as Printing Pressmen and Assistants' Local 212. The change to the GCIU name was the result of national mergers with related unions in 1973 and 1983. In 2002, Local 212 had only a dozen members, according to National Labor Relations Board documents. The Tucson local merged with Phoenix-based Local 56-M in 2003.

As of Aug. 7, neither daily newspaper had carried a story on the decertification vote.

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