On Sunday, Jan. 14 The Kingman Daily Miner published a letter to the editor submitted by Councilman Travis Lingenfelter. That letter has been removed from the Miner’s permanent website archives following the revelation that a significant portion of its content was plagiarized.
The editorial board of the Daily Miner and the residents of Kingman have every right to be disappointed in Councilman Lingenfelter for submitting a letter as an original work knowing he had, in fact, taken the words of other writers and presented them as his own. This is no less than thievery.
What’s more, Lingenfelter is no stranger to the process of submitting letters and columns to the Miner or other news outlets for publication. He has done so on numerous occasions and knows the expectations that the body of work must be original and any quotes or supporting statements of significant length and weight should be given honest and clear attribution.
When presented with the proof of plagiarism Councilman Lingenfelter responded to the Miner on Monday through a message saying, “… my apologies. I extracted a few supporting sentences from a well-known blog (Josephson, Michael. ‘Tyranny of the Minority.’ What Will Matter. Michael Josephson Institute, Aug 2014) in a non-academic setting that conveyed the exact situation that is occurring in Kingman …”
Regarding the additional plagiarized content in his letter, Lingenfelter apologized a second time later on Monday saying, “I apologize for the misunderstanding and perhaps confusion surrounding the submission and my unfamiliarity with citing a few sentences of a blog for an opinion piece,” he messaged.
We take issue with the excuse of “extracted a few supporting sentences” and “citing a few sentences.” The councilman’s letter ran nearly 1,300 words and 300 of those words were taken directly from Mr. Josephson’s commentary alone. This is not a matter of borrowing a few sentences. It is clear Lingenfelter copied and pasted the majority of a copyright-protected blog essay and attempted to pass it off as his own original work.
In his letter, the first paragraph spoke to the importance of basic values like decency, honesty, and respect. Taking credit for someone else’s work and presenting it as your own is not only dishonest, it disrespects the original authors and certainly does not reflect the kind of decent behavior Kingman residents expect from a city council member. It is unacceptable and will call into question the authenticity of any future words coming from Councilman Lingenfelter.
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