Monday, September 03, 2007

September Story of the Month

Yes, I know we said we’d be accepting nominees for Story of the Month through Sept. 4, but this one was so good and so timely we decided to publish this Story of the Month today. We’ll still review -- and possibly share -- other submissions as they come in!

The Daily Egyptian, the student newspaper at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, got the school year off to a bang with an investigative report detailing allegations that university President Glenn Poshard had lifted portions of his 1984 dissertation without proper documentation.

The package of stories that ran on Aug. 30 (and follow-up stories that ran the following day) was produced by Daily Egyptian staffers Jordan Wilson, Joe Crawford, Brian Feldt and Sean McGahan.

The newspaper's report was based on a copy of Poshard's dissertation that was given to the newspaper by an unnamed source. The manuscript had sentences and paragraphs highlighted to denote potentially plagiarized sections. The source also provided photocopies of source material from which Poshard's dissertation may have been taken. The Daily Egyptian verified the validity of the source's documents by obtaining the originals and even checking with the author of one book. The newspaper published a two-page spread comparing the sections of the dissertation with the other documents.

In addition to stories about the allegations and the graphic representation of the plagiarism charges, the paper ran stories about other instances of plagiarism at the university, a timeline chronicling the “Journey of a President” and a reasoned, carefully worded editorial that avoids judgment, letting readers draw conclusions for themselves.

The story was picked up by professional newspapers around the state and beyond, including the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune and the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Kudos to The Daily Egyptian for its excellent reporting on this story. We’d love to learn how the reporters got the story, but they haven’t responded to our emails yet. Guys, we want to hear from you! Post a comment here or send an email to

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