The Beacon’s statement on journalistic integrity

Truth, accuracy and objectivity have long been held as some of the key expectations that readers expect from good journalism.

Last semester, The Beacon editors discovered that a submitted opinion piece, written by a staff member, appeared to be plagiarized. Editors immediately contacted the paper’s faculty adviser, Dr. Kalen Churcher, associate professor of communication studies, who also reviewed the piece. After a thorough review of the column, Churcher determined the piece contained improperly attributed and unattributed content, and the student was removed from The Beacon.

A review of all stories written by the student occurred, and it was determined that at least 19 opinion pieces were plagiarized between 2020 and 2021. The name of the student is not being released, following the advice of the university‘s student affairs officials.

The disappointment felt the editorial staff was – and still is — great. To dishonor the university and the Communication Studies Department, as well as tarnish the hard work that students put into making The Beacon a respected publication, is not something to be taken lightly. As a member of The Beacon’s staff and as journalists, our job is to be truthful and honest not only with our readers, but other staff members and editors as well.

This kind of behavior is not acceptable at The Beacon, and protocol has been implemented to reduce the likelihood of it occurring again.

It was only after our discovery that knowledge was brought to us that the plagiarism was noticed by a small group of readers. Unfortunately, despite being noticed and discussed, the information was not reported to the paper or university administration. Be advised that we at The Beacon value honesty as journalists and we encourage any reader, be it a student, faculty, or a member of the community, to reach out to us with questions or concerns had with any content produced by The Beacon.

This semester, editors, paid staff writers and those seeking practicum credit must complete an online plagiarism unit and quiz. Eventually, anyone writing long term for The Beacon will also be asked to complete the review

We apologize to these news outlets, informational websites and their respective writers for the disregard of one of The Beacon’s columnists.

We would also like to apologize to our readers. This case of plagiarism is not something we take lightly, nor is it something that should be brushed aside. Trust in news is something that is not easily gained but rather something that can be lost so quickly.

We hope that our readers will continue to support our staff who do uphold journalistic integrity and work hard to produce the stories that comprise the pages of The Beacon, as we will continue to work toward earning back the trust that has been lost by this case.


Below is the list of columns that were reviewed and determined to be plagiarized.

Vol 73 Issue 2, 9/8/2020, page 17: The backlash of social activism on and off the court

Vol 73 Issue 3, 9/16/2020, page 15: President Trump’s privileged disrespect for the military

Vol 73 Issue 4, 9/23/2020, page 17: Lone Star State juggles donkeys, elephants prior to election

Vol 73 Issue 5, 9/30/2020, page 15: Voting-by-mail: Studies deem the process to be very efficient

Vol 73 Issue 6, 10/14/2020, page 15: First presidential debate: Useless insults and absurd debacle

Vol 73 Issue 7, 10/21/2020, page 15: Vice Presidential Debate: Who won? What happened?

Vol 73 Issue 8, 2020, page 15: This town (hall) is not big enough for the both of us

Vol 73 Issue 9, 11/5/2020, page 15: The unexpected switch of U.S. political parties’ beliefs

Online Piece, 1/22/2021: President Biden and the future of American politics

Vol 73 Issue 10, 2/17/2021, page 15: The first weeks of the Biden presidency: A good start?

Vol 73 Issue 11, 2/24/2021, page 17: Where does the GOP go after second impeachment trial?

Vol 73 Issue 12, 3/1/2021, front cover, continued to page 8: Opinion: Ted Cruz escapes storm as Texans freeze during crisis

Vol 73, Issue 13, 3/17/2021, page 15: COVID-19 American Rescue Plan: A huge win for citizens

Vol 73 Issue 14, 3/24/2021, page 15: A letter of resignation is necessary from Gov. Cuomo

Vol 73 Issue 15, 3/30/21: Hate crimes against Asian Americans: Where our government stands

Vol 73 Issue 16, 4/21/2021, page 7: Shades of Jim Crow in Georgia’s new voting law

Online Piece, 4/28/2021: “Star Wars”: A ranking of the 11 films from a series fan

Vol 74 Issue 2, 9/15/2021, page 15: Marvel Studios Nails it Again: No-spoiler “Shang Chi” Review

Submitted, but not published: California Gubernatorial Recall Election, Republicans Should Pay


Emily Cherkauskas, Editor-in-Chief
Ariel Reed, Managing Editor
Sean Schmoyer, Former Managing Editor