Monday ∗ 16 Jan 2012

on ignorance and vampires: self-/auto-plagiarism

what is being brought to light too, i find, is that while Lito Zulueta’s biases are questioned precisely because of the place he occupies in the Philippine Daily Inquirer vis a vis UST, his engagement with this issue has not happened in the broadsheet he works for. whereas Luis Teodoro’s attacks on him have happened in a regular Business World column.

the discussion, thankfully, continues.

from Luis Teodoro’s Business World column, January 12 2012.


In a letter to BusinessWorld last January 10 (Who will watch the watchdog?), Lito Zulueta of the University of Santo Tomas noted “striking resemblances” (sic) between the January 2 CMFR statement (“Specious and disingenuous”) and my January 6 Vantage Point column (Rule makers and rule breakers), and insinuates intellectual theft, presumably from CMFR, on my part.

Mr. Zulueta was as usual speaking in ignorance, if not malice as well. As CMFR deputy director and editor of its media monitoring publication PJR Reports, involvements I have many times disclosed, I wrote the January 2 CMFR statement for uploading in the CMFR Web site, and subsequently developed it for this newspaper into a column. Unless I can be accused of stealing from myself, Mr. Zulueta’s attempt to divert attention from his egregious ethical lapses by alleging “intellectual theft” can only be described as pathetic.

Mr. Zulueta makes up the ethical rules of journalism as he goes along. He claims, for example, that journalists should disclose their associations only to gatekeepers and not to the public, to whom anyone with a molecule of knowledge of journalism ethics knows they should be even more responsible. He also speculates rather than proves. The suggestion that it was in furtherance of propaganda for the University of the Philippines that I wrote the column in question — in his feeble attempt to turn an ethics issue into a competition between UP and UST that can happen only in the dreams of juveniles in a state of arrested development — is as absurd as the implication that I stole from myself after 45 years of service to the University of the Philippines where plagiarism is an offense even more unforgiveable than stupidity.

My links to UP as a professor of journalism and former dean of the UP College of Mass Communication are well-known, as Mr. Zulueta himself noted, which would make my reiteration of those connections unnecessary unless they’re compellingly relevant. They are irrelevant to the present case, but whenever they were pertinent — for example when I criticized UP, for, among other offenses, raising tuition fees, or failing to curb fraternity violence — I have disclosed them as well as my connections with CMFR in behalf of the ethical imperatives of transparency and full disclosure.

I have never done public relations work for any institution. I have often been critical of UP despite my long association with it, and I direct those interested in establishing the truth of this claim to my Web site and to CMFR’s (

Lito Zulueta’s response, received via email today:

Furthermore, the watchdog does not even read the watchdog: A vampire chronicle

In his latest BusinessWorld column (Jan. 12, 2012), press critic Luis V. Teodoro has called me “ignorant,” among other ad hominem labels, for suggesting he “stole from (himself)” when he lifted whole passages of a critique he had written for the media watchdog Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), “Specious and Disingenuous” (Jan. 2, 2012), and recycled them for his column, “Rule Makers and Rule Breakers” (Jan. 6, 2012). He has denied committing self- or auto-plagiarism.

But it seems Mr. Teodoro is himself ignorant that the CMFR has condemned auto-plagiarism. In its issue of June 16, 2008, the Philippine Journalism Review, a publication of CMFR, documented a number of cases of plagiarism in the press, and quoted Mr. Teodoro’s colleague from the UP College of Mass Communications, Danila Arao, now UP vice-president for public affairs, warning against auto-plagiarism:  Auto-plagiarism happens “when the author passes off as original something he or she has written in the past.” It seems Mr. Teodoro didn’t read that edition, which colorfully called plagiarists “vampires.” (So what’s an auto-plagiarist? Someone who sucks himself? Goodness.)

It also seems that Mr. Teodoro—or is it the CMFR?—is much too fond of the word “furtherance.” The word appears in the CMFR critique, his Jan. 13 column, and his latest column denying his alleged self-plagiarism. In the interest of word variety, it is hoped he (or it?) would try to expand his (or its?) vocabulary.

Lito B. Zulueta
Editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Journalism teacher, University of Santo Tomas


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