When I read the following Tweet from Fronteras, it caught my attention.

It caught my attention because I appreciate the work they do, and because I follow most news related to immigration, immigration policy, and immigration activism. But it also caught my attention because it sounded familiar. Too familiar.

The article linked in the Fronteras Tweet, written by Laurel Morales, is titled “Undocumented And Unafraid.” Huh, I thought. In March I wrote a piece for Salon with the same title. Okay, well, perhaps it is just a coincidence. The phrase “undocumented and unafraid” is ubiquitous and frequently quoted.

But then there’s the rest of the Fronteras Tweet: “That’s the rallying cry of a new group of young #immigrants,” which also appears as a caption in their article (although it was later changed). This happened to be very similar to the subtitle of my Salon article: “That’s the rallying cry of a new group of immigration activists who are turning toward more confrontational tactics.” Hmmm.

Then I read the full text of the Fronteras article and found at least two paragraphs in the middle that either partially copy or closely resemble the text and argument of my Salon piece (just in fewer words, and without attribution). Compare these examples:

Example 1

My piece:“Young undocumented immigrants across the country have come out as ‘undocumented and unafraid’ in the most conspicuous of places: in front of the Alabama Capitol; in Maricopa County, Ariz., home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio; in front of federal immigration courts; and even inside ICE offices, processing centers, and detention centers.”

Fronteras: “Young immigrants across the country are coming out in places that draw attention — outside state capitol buildings, immigration courts, even inside ICE offices.”

Example 2

My piece: “So far, according to activists, none of the recent acts of civil disobedience have resulted in deportation, but the threat remains very real as the Obama administration continues to deport young undocumented immigrants, including those whose cases have received considerable publicity.”

Fronteras: “So far, activists say, arrests have been made during these acts of civil disobedience, but no one has been deported.”

The passages add context to the Fronteras article; they aren’t essential. Otherwise it includes original reporting and good interviews. In some ways it’s actually a continuation of the story told in my piece.

Perhaps lazy researching and writing or a tight deadline is to blame for the similarities.

But it seems like coincidence had little to do with it.


UPDATE (11/28/12): Thank you to Fronteras for giving attribution to my Salon piece in the text of their article and for adding the following addendum.

“EDITOR’S NOTE: Portions of this story were originally reported by Salon. It is our policy to give full and accurate attribution in all of our news stories. We regret our failure to do so this case.”


2 thoughts on “Coincidence?

  1. Adam, I’m sorry. I did read your piece before I wrote mine. I probably shouldn’t have because it obviously resonated with me. I did my own reporting but I inadvertently mirrored some of your language. Thank you for pointing it out.

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