Journalistic Integrity and Plagiarism

 (LA Times update on Cox case)
Obsidian Fin. Group, LLC v. Cox, 740 F.3d 1284, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 948, 42 Media L. Rep. 1186

I have attached the PDF of the case from Lexis (legal research entity)


This case outcome was not a surprise, there was a precedence and there are codes of ethics as well as prior caselaw that Ms Cox should have been aware of as a journalist even in its most basic form.  Ms. Cox was a Wolf who cried wolf or wanted to benefit from the best of both roles as both Grandma and a reporter in Grandma’s clothing.

A few cases post facto:
Abraham v. Greer, 509 S.W.3d 609, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 12729

Matter of Home Box Off. Inc. (Laster), 64 Misc. 3d 566, 103 N.Y.S.3d 794, 2019 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2897, 2019 NY Slip Op 29164, 2019 WL 2376515

In re: Federal media Shield bill.

https://supreme.findlaw.com/legal-commentary/the-federal-media-shield-bill-anonymity-and-the-definition-of-a-journalist.html
California state shield law:
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB558

The Journalism Shield Test in the “Crystal Cox Case”

  1. Education in journalism.
  2. Credentials or proof of affiliation with a recognized news entity
  3. Proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest
  4. Keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted
  5. Mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources
  6. Creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others
  7. Contacting “the other side” to get both sides of a story

When you look at the standards test applied to this case, it becomes clear that if you are a journalist of media giants, you should know better.  Ms. Cox was nor only a staff reporter at one point but held supervisory roles at the Times.  Ms. Cox oftentimes found herself in very sensitive positions where she was educated on the “best direction” to present sensitive material.  

Reporters or a blogger of real journalistic intent should be able to use this seven-point test as a guideline for safety and standards 

If you can apply this test and be found as a true journalist in the eyes of the codified law, you may enjoy journalistic freedom/shield.

This is a matter of intent vs sole content,  Ms. Cox seemed to be far more than a novice journal-blogger; she appeared to have intentionally and with malice execute a retaliation campaign against obsidian and allegedly not for actual factual events she endured but for things she felt would be effective in tainting her target.

PART 2:   

My first thought is WOW, what came to mind was the movie “Wag the Dog” what is the difference between digital media content producers and spin doctors.  

My concern is that we may end up one day being the victims of a digital “War of the Worlds.”

Another woman giving journalists a bad name:
Diamond v. Am-Law Pub. Corp., 745 F.2d 142, 1984 U.S. App. LEXIS 18746, 223 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 709, Copy. L. Rep. (CCH) P25,716

JOHN DIAMOND, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. AM-LAW PUBLISHING CORP., JAY KRIEGEL, STEVEN BRILL, Jill ABRAMSON, KITTY KELLEY, Defendants-Appellees

In this case, Jill was involved in another copyright issue her publisher prevailed here, but she should have, in addition to proper ethics, ascribe to journalists she should be in a position to know better the perils of plagiarism.  She wrote the book as an author but as an author who held themselves as an expert in journalistic professions.  In this case, “fair use” as a defense prevailed.

PART 3: 

This made me cringe, in today’s social media eccentric society it seems if you are hurt, you have to prove it by displaying for all to see and judge.  Those who suffer damage like in this article are rarely good at self-promotion. 

We, the ones who feed on the news and sudo news, are to blame for the fact or fact-less frenzies for attention.  It is also the advertisers because the clicks equate to dollars for digital news agencies.  

Sadly there is no gatekeeper if the consumers have no filters for truth.  Just as we filter out as a society the need for facts, we also turn our heads from facts to look at “something shiny.”

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