RJI produces e-book to help fight plagiarism and fabrication

The American Copy Editors Society (ACES) will introduce a provocative new e-book produced at the RJI during the organization’s annual conference on April 4-6 in St. Louis.

The e-book, titled “Telling the Truth and Nothing But”, addresses one of the most vexing issues confronting journalism today — plagiarism and fabrication.

At the end of 2012, volunteers representing 10 professional organizations formed a task force, initiated by ACES President Teresa Schmedding, to gather material for a “summit” meeting and report that would provide news media and educational institutions with guidance dealing with this issue.

The findings and recommendations of the task force will be presented along with the e-book at the ACES conference’s “National Summit on Plagiarism and Fabrication” on Friday morning (April 5). Anyone can attend the summit free of charge at the Ballpark Hilton St. Louis hotel.

This e-book is the latest of more than 40 “Digital Newsbooks” produced for RJI Digital Publishing Alliance (DPA) members. Nearly all are free to download from the RJI website. Roger Fidler, RJI’s program director for digital publishing, launched the Digital Newsbook Project soon after he founded the DPA in the fall of 2006. His objective was to design visually rich e-books that would make investigative and long-form journalism easier to access and read on laptops, tablets, e-readers and other mobile devices, and ultimately to provide news organizations and journalists with a new source of revenue.

Last year, The New York Times and Tribune Company among others launched major e-book programs of their own.

Fidler has earned high praise for his dedication to producing quality journalism e-books. His latest effort is no exception. The leaders of the ACES “Telling the Truth” project had this to say:

Teresa Schmedding
Teresa Schmedding

“What I thought would be a grueling experience, turned out to be a breeze. RJI is synonymous with quality. And that’s evident nowhere more so than in their digital publishing initiative. We gave them our content for an e-book with a tight deadline for publishing, and the team turned it around in just a few days. This was our first e-book, and it was a relief to lean on the expert staff at RJI for advice and protocols and technical issues.”

— Teresa Schmedding, ACES president
Deputy ME/Digital Operations, Daily Herald Media Group

William G. Connelly
William G. Connelly

“Working with RJI and Roger Fidler was an education for this e-book neophyte. Everything was explained patiently and clearly. And the quick turnaround and attention to detail were impressive. Do it again? Any time.”

— William G. Connolly, senior editor (retired), The New York Times

The ACES “Telling the Truth” e-book presented Fidler with some special challenges. Except for thumbnail photos of participants, there were no suitable photos or graphics, so he had to rely entirely on typography to enhance the reading experience.

The ACES editors also required many more web links for attributions than are found in a typical e-book, which could have been problematic for readers. Fidler explains:

“Multiple web links within paragraphs on e-book pages are particularly frustrating for users of touch-screen tablets, e-readers and smartphones. Readers can touch the wrong links when they are placed too close together, and they can inadvertently touch links that launch web browsers when they are attempting to swipe pages or perform other functions. This is especially annoying when an e-book is read offline.”

To avoid these problems, Fidler developed a novel approach for the web links. He listed all of the web links on a series of “Source” pages at the back of the e-book. Throughout the e-book, words or passages in boldface type indicate links. To see and activate the links, readers touch or click on the “Show Sources” button at the bottom of the pages. To return to the page where a link was designated, readers are instructed to touch or click on the page number to the left of the link.


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