The River Oaks Examiner Forgets to Cite Source (Plagiarism?)

A few weeks ago I went to a House of Pies on Westheimer and picked up a copy of the local paper, The River Oaks Examiner.
I didn’t get around to reading it until recently, but I’m glad I did because there’s yet another example of poor journalism in it.
This example comes from Katherin Cabaniss, “a former prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and currently the Executive Director of Crime Stoppers, a nonprofit organization” according to the Examiner.
In her article on tanning beds, Cabaniss talks about a recent infamous case of a woman tanning her 5 year old kid, lists some Texas laws regarding tanning, lists some risks of indoor tanning, and then goes back to listing more Texas laws.

In “The Risks” section, Cabaniss says:

“Tanning is a trend that is here to stay. However, the risks are significant.
The Department of Heath and Human Services actually declared that tanning beds are carcinogenic! They are formally defined as cancer causing instruments. Studies have shown a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.
Nonetheless, 28 million people tan indoors annually. Seventy percent of those users are Caucasion girls and women. In 2010, the tanning industry saw $2.6 billion in revenue.
Further, frequent intentional exposure to UV light may lead to an addiction to tanning! (This clearly applies in the New Jersey woman’s case.)”

While it may seem to some that the author is an expert on tanning risks, since she knows so many facts about tanning apparently off hand, in fact the author got all of these facts from the same website.

The American Academy of Dermatology’s “media resource” on Indoor Tanning says:

“The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency of Research on Cancer panel has declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).6”
“Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.9,10”
“Nearly 28 million people tan indoors in the United States annually.”
“Nearly 70 percent of tanning salon patrons are Caucasian girls and women, primarily aged 16 to 29 years.2”
“In 2010, the indoor tanning industry’s revenue is estimated to be $2.6 billion.5”
“In addition to the above mentioned risks, frequent, intentional exposure to UV light may lead to an addiction to tanning.16”

Once again, the author seems to think making minor changes to the sentence structure and adding shallow/obvious things like tanning is “here to stay” and “the risks are significant” means she doesn’t have to cite her source at all, even though she used over 5 quotes from the same web page.
This seems especially odd considering the author is a former prosecutor.

So is this hypocrisy? Is the Crime Stopper committing intellectual theft?

Does the fact that her facts came from AAD’s “Media Resources” section mean that she doesn’t need to attribute?
Does the fact that AAD hasn’t responded about the incident mean that it doesn’t matter???

Comments are appreciated.



2 responses to “The River Oaks Examiner Forgets to Cite Source (Plagiarism?)”

  1. Ty Clifford says :

    Just because it came from the “Media Resources” section doesn’t mean one should not cite.

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