Sat, 12/20/2014 - 19:18

Posted by Belinda Alzner on January 09, 2013

Toronto Distrcit School Board director Chris Spence has admitted to having plagiarized parts of his Jan. 5 Toronto Star op-ed on sports in schools.

Spence has penned an apology, posted to the Toronto District School Board website, in which he owns up to his actions:

I wrote that op-ed and – in no less than five different instances – I did not give proper credit for the work of others. I did not attribute their work. I did research and wrote down notes and came back at it the next day, and wrote down the notes.

I can provide excuses for how and why this happened – that I was rushed, that I was sloppy, that I was careless – but that’s all they would be: excuses. There is no excuse for what I did. In the position I am honoured to occupy, in the wonderful job I do every single day, I of all people should have known that.

I am ashamed and embarrassed by what I did. I have invited criticism and condemnation, and I richly deserve both.

In his statement, Spence also outlines what he intends to do in the wake of this, including enrolling himself into Ryerson University’s Ethics and Law in Journalism course “at the earliest opportunity.”

According to Star education reporter Kristin Rushowy, public editor Kathy English investigated the allegations. English has added a note before Spence’s column online:

Public Editor's note: This Opinion article includes substantial unattributed material from several other sources. Those sources include the "Coaching Excellence" blog of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, the blog, Pro Sport Chick, an online encyclopedia and a 1989 Op-Ed article in the New York Times written by Anita L. Defrantz, then president of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and a current member of the International Olympic Committee. Spence has acknowledged  that he plagiarized parts of his article and apologized to the Star and its readers.

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This is the second instance of unattributed material showing up in the Star in the last week. On Friday, the newspaper published an apology after unattributed material from The Globe and Mail showed up in two paragraphs of a business story.

I emailed English to ask about this latest instance of plagiarism. “[The unattributed material] was brought to the Star’s attention by a reader who ran some paragraphs of the piece through Google,” she responded. “I’m still uncertain what provoked that.”

I’ll update with any new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, check the following links for more information:

Chris Spence’s op-ed on sports in schools

Chris Spence admits to plagiarism in op-ed, apologizes

Toronto Star story on plagiarism admission

J-Source and ProjetJ are publications of the Canadian Journalism Project, a venture among post-secondary journalism schools and programs across Canada, led by Ryerson University, Université Laval and Carleton University and supported by a group of donors.