Scribes + More Still Being Sorted Out…

I have been quite ill lately and haven’t checked my Marketmanila emails for two days… so I only saw this response from the Reader’s Advocate of The Philippine Daily Inquirer a few minutes ago, and I quote:

“Thank you for your feedback, Marketman. I’m sorry that since I don’t come to the Inquirer every day, I was unable to reply immediately. I wish to assure you that I have looked into your complaint and have checked the “mangosteen” website as well, and that I shall take up this matter with the Lifestyle editor. Please be assured that the Inquirer takes feedback such as yours seriously.

Lorna Kalaw-Tirol
Readers’ Advocate”

Thank you, Ms. Kalaw-Tirol, for that email, and I look forward to your follow-up on this issue.

So, there you have it. The first official communication from the paper… let’s see where it leads. If you will recall, I first wrote about the scribes issue nearly 10 days ago, here, and followed it up with a second post, here. Also, I had been planning to write (but have been so sick) a longer email to several folks at the paper because a cursory check of just 3-4 months in articles by the same author yielded at least two other questionable sets of sentences or paragraphs without apparent attrbution to an apparent favored source, Wikipedia, it would appear. For those who are interested, you may want to check out these instances, aside from the original Scribes who consume mangosteens:

Example # 2

What was the source of the information stated in first THREE paragraphs of an earlier column by the same writer on spaghetti squash from 01 August 2007? While it is substantially different from the Wikipedia write-up, it does really beg the question if the writer used Wikipedia as a source but didn’t bother to credit it either… after all, even Marketman, who has written about lots of vegetables, would normally be able to write straight off of the top of my head that spaghetti squash is an “American Native” or that is was called Sharkfin Melon by Chinese folks and list out its vitamin content (naming several specific vitamins), and how to cook it by boiling, baking or steaming it, or could I, or even figure out “squaghetti”???

Example # 3

In a column by the same writer on August 29, 2007, the writer answers a question on figs, and I quote her answer verbatim (from on-line version) here:

“Figs are flowers of the fig tree, not the fruit. Also known as a false or multiple fruit, they come from clusters of flowers and seeds that grow together to form a single mass.

Dried figs are high in dietary fiber and are a rich source of calcium. They are also said to be antioxidants, substances that fight disease causing free radicals.”

But if you look at the Wikipedia entry on the topic of figs, you get these two sets of pieces of data, and I quote:

“The fig is commonly thought of as a fruit, but is is properly the flower of the fig tree. It is in fact a false fruit or a multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds grow together to form a single mass…

…figs also have higher quantities of fiber than any other dried or fresh fruit, and are high in calcium.”

Now the sentences here are substiantially different, yet all of the same thoughts are covered. And this begs the question which source was indeed used as it does not appear that the writer completely claims these thoughts as her own, even including a “they are also said” in her sentences, so who said it???

At any rate, I appear to be splitting hairs… but not really. I think any writer who has a regular column in a national newspaper should take care to follow some basic rules about attributing the source of his/her information, particularly if the amount of research done to respond to readers questions appear to be nothing more than a simple “google” and “wikipedia” read. I could list out a half dozen excellent reference books for food that may augment the google search capability on food writers’ computers to broaden the information sources used to reply to questions… Certainly with the newspaper garnering millions in advertising revenue they could afford some reference materials. :)


13 Responses

  1. way to go mm! i hope she (ms. aspiras) herself responds though. i wonder if she’ll still try to justify her actions or apologize straight out and admit liability.

    i dont think anyone, at the top of his head, can make such thorough descriptions of figs or whatnots, unless she misleads her readers into thinking she’s a walking encyclopedia. only ernie baron has been acknowledged as such in the phils, and even he cites his sources!

    btw, what’s your take on pito-pito? hihihi
    get well soon mm!

  2. Or, they could be more proficient and diligent when doing research for their article they are writing.. I’m sure these “journalists” came from well-to-do schools, (and even if they don’t, it’s no excuse for acts of plagiarism) so the more they should be adamant into citing details of their research..

  3. i know lorna ( although we have not been in touch for sometime now) –and i am sure she will do what she says she will.
    please pursue the “cause”. media people have to be reminded of their responsibility to be consistently intellectually honest!

  4. I really wish Miss Reggie Aspiras either responds here or in her newspaper. From what I’ve read, and from someone I know who has attended her cooking class years ago, she seemed like a nice lady.

  5. reggie didn’t even finish college! she shifted from school to school, and was a delinquent student that’s why her family who had money then, shipped her off to spain. she’s obviously a chef who doesnt know her stuff!

  6. The Inquirer has no integrity whatsoever. They publish anything with facts unchecked or the other side given a chance to air their side. Boycott them!

  7. Mangaranon, actually, of the local papers, I always thought the Inquirer was better than most, though we also get the businessworld paper for business news. I mean, then what, The Star? Malaya? Bulletin Today? We also get The Herald Tribune for real news, but its all international… hannah, I don’t normally consider one’s not finishing college to be a negative, as long as one conducts oneself in a professional manner and doesn’t present themselves as something they are not… acidboy, I agree, I would rather she respond so that I/we can see what she is made off… sonia, glad to hear Lorna is an upright kinda person… will see what response she sends… filet minion, pito-pito, as in the native remedy for coughs and colds? Link here. Actually, it would be cheaper than the bloody course of medicines I have just been prescribed…

  8. nothing wrong with not finishing school, but ms aspiras still doesn’t know enough stuff to be considered as chef. i wont be surprised if a household cusinera would known more stuff then she does.

    you should replace her marketman!

  9. MM, may i ask for your permission to print your article about mangosteen? well, our topic now is about paraphrasing and summarizing. Our teacher is so strict about plagiarism. And she gave this issue as an example for us.. tnx.. :)

  10. sixteen, yes you may certainly print the article and use it for your class work. Just remember to source it to and there should be no issue at all. Many thanks.



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