But in six years of teaching, I have found the overwhelming majority of students are extremely careful about attribution. If anything, journalism students need help in figuring out when they don’t have to attribute background material.
In the one traditional academic course I teach, on media law, I have discovered that many students don’t know how to do citations properly. We had Turabian drilled into our heads in high school, but apparently those days are long gone. But few students have a problem in being clear, consistent and thorough with their citations, regardless of what self-taught method they use.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems. I’ve had a few students who cheated, and I ended up dealing with one before the university’s disciplinary board. There may also have been a few others who slipped something past me, though I doubt that it’s a regular occurrence. Plagiarism is generally not that hard to spot.
Overall, there’s an unattractive kids-these-days tone to the Times story, linking plagiarism to digital phenomena ranging from Wikipedia to downloading music and films. Hey, you! Get off of my lawn!