Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More on Astroturf: The InOpinion blog (innovative opinion for newspapers) takes on the Astroturf issue and demolishes the arguments in favor of deceptive practices far more effectively than I did.

The site makes short work of a claim on the Focus on the Family website, that “it is not unethical or “plagiarism” for you to assemble and submit a letter using this tool. We offer this information to help you put into words your thoughts on this important subject.”

That’s “simply a bald-faced lie,” InOpinion says. “These astroturfers offer canned letters to be copied. They are not “helping.” Helping would be editing already written letters or providing some research or some links. What Focus on the Family and others do is provide complete letters to the editor with minimal involvement from the person who will claim to be the letter’s author. The results are for all to see on Google – the EXACT same language running in newspaper after newspaper.”

The site also makes the point that even with permission, plagiarism is not a victimless crime: "Plagiarism is not a copyright violation, there are three parties involved: The original writer, the plagiarist and the new reader. The new reader is being deceived – that they are reading an original work."

There's plenty more on the astroturf phenomenon, too.


  • At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you'll have to excuse me since i only skimmed InOpinion, and don't really much about "astroturf". I agree with everything said about plagarism etc. BUT I think there are exceptions. For example, mass mailings of identical letters to a congressman are not meant to express a multitude of ideas or viewpoints, but simply to express a large number of supporters for the content of the letter...essentially no different than signing a petition


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