Journalist of the Year Portfolio

I’m as good and guilty as they come

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I have a confession to make: I’m a plagiarist.

And no, it’s not what you’re thinking. Before you put me in front of the discipline council, hear me out — because odds are, you're just as guilty as I am. Odds are, everyone reading this is a plagiarist.

But before you can accept that, you’ll need to throw away that Marksmen phobia of plagiarism. That phobia that teachers fuel from day one to prevent you from doing something wrong. That phobia that used to send a shiver down my spine and put a pit in my stomach just at the sound of the word. And that phobia that used to give me visions of being kicked out of school and failing in all my activities.

But today I can say with confidence that I’m a plagiarist — as good and guilty as they come.

In fact, the moral of this column is in many ways plagiarized from a source in the February issue of my favorite publication: Focus Magazine.

Months before the issue came out, Naftal Mautia, our graphics director this year, texted me and told me he wanted to work on the next issue of the magazine. The story I eventually assigned him to was a profile of a man I’d heard incredible things about. A man who spent his life building the most elite high school baseball league in Dallas, but now also works as Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach. A man I still have never spoken to in my life, though I hope to someday. His name is Sam Carpenter.

On page nine of the magazine, he says, “I describe my life as three ‘P’s.’ I’m a procrastinator. I’m a plagiarist (I’ve never had an original idea and I don’t think I ever will). And I’m persistent. I stay with things. If it’s something I want to do, I’m gonna stay after it.”

When Naftal turned in this quote on his deadline, I picked up the sheet of paper, read through Carpenter’s words, and immediately realized — that’s me. I’m a plagiarist.

I knew long before this quote that I was a procrastinator and was persistent. But when I heard this vastly successful and influential man’s words, who at even his age thinks he’s never had an original idea, my phobia of plagiarism went away.

Because I realized that I — like Carpenter — have been plagiarizing people and ideas my entire life.

When I was a kid, my dad told me he loves tennis, and I’ve been a tennis player ever since. When I was in eighth grade, Dr. Steg told me people who lead make themselves bigger, and I’ve been trying to lead ever since. When I got to high school, Gopal Raman told me he loves doing community service and going to philosophy club, and I’ve been spending hours on both ever since.

The list goes on and on.

I can say today I have a passion for journalism because Philip Smart had a passion for journalism. I can say today I’m say today I’m a sneakerhead and Pusha-T fan because Case Lowry’s a sneakerhead and Pusha-T fan. And I can say today I spend sometimes hours on Sunday nights working on our weekly class updates because Shailen Parmar does the same for their weekly class updates.

Every day, I’m constantly replicating the people and ideas who inspire me. People like my mom or dad who are always giving care. People like my advisor Mr. Womack who’s always in the best mood and always interested to talk. People like my upperclassman mentors, my current classmates and teachers who I look up to. I guarantee whether we know it or not, you’re influencing me with every interaction.

According to Merriam-Webster, plagiarism is the act or instance of passing off the ideas or words of another as one’s own without crediting the source.

And even though I know I’m a plagiarist because of Sam Carpenter, I wrote this to give credit where it’s due — to give credit to my sources.

To the people reading this whose lives have inspired my own, I’m sorry I didn’t credit you sooner. To the people reading this who may be inspired by me in the future, I say thank you — after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And finally, to the plagiarists reading this who have yet to credit their sources, don’t procrastinate like Sam Carpenter might — give credit where it’s due.

Start by admitting that you, like me, are a plagiarist — as good and guilty as they come.