One last thing: I spent the time writing (and posting) all of this not to announce what a terrible journalist I think you are, or to make you feel badly about your work. Investigative journalism has always been incredibly important, a tool for providing valuable insight about a pressing issue to the general public. I hope you will perceive this criticism as encouragement to um...sharpen your tool, and not discouragement.
I appreciate your efforts to clear things up. It's challenging for me to visualize a team of high school boys engaged in a circle jerk over Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in between bong hits and comic swapping, but I also haven't met many high school boys that would call to mind the word "precocious," so maybe you're a special case. Still: did you not conduct a basic Google search before writing this article? It's the *very first* article that appears on the subject matter. And if you did read this article, and decided that you could both reasonably use the same Sherlock framework and other references without worry of plagiarism accusations, why didn't you cite the original article?
In other words: while there might be 1000 articles in a thousand science magazines that make reference to Star Trek, they are probably not the exact same Star Trek reference on the exact same subject matter (without citation), and few would be so bold to assert that there's no available information on space travel.
Much of this could be avoided by simply not making statements like "Very few academics or scientists have bothered with interviewing panhandlers directly" unless you can provide a direct, credible source for such statements. I don't find someone who hasn't mastered The Google to be credible source for insight about what the whole academic and scientific communities "have bothered" to do.
More results from my Google search:
A thorough, interesting, and personal Chicago blog from 2010 where multiple panhandlers are interviewed, and various sources are used to provide statistics, context, and insight:
The book "Antisocial Patterns of Begging and Beggars" which lists a number of studies, including the Toronto research, and is available in part through Google Books
A PopCenter article that cites research for nearly every line of text:
Those interested in the full Toronto Research, just for the sake of nerdery:
Not exactly on topic, but nonetheless interesting article in the SFGate on marketing strategies for panhandlers:
Penn State academic research that references two national surveys
Arizona State University research on panhandler demographics, including income
I brought up Buskers because you made a point of quoting an individual who identified Buskers as a source of competition. To me, that would warrant follow-up question to at least one busker, asking if they perceived themselves to be in competition for the same small pool of dollars.
As far as pop culture references to panhandling, come on. GOOGLE SOMETHING. This is just lazy. Here's a place to start: Mark Twain.
I think it would have been worth it to contact a sociology professor at PSU or Reed or Lewis and Clark for insight as to research previously conducted on this subject. Any one of these colleges would have also offered insight as to difficulties in collecting a survey sample, and would have provided a quote (an original one) that could have been used in this article regarding the difficulties in gathering this data. He could have also contacted any of a number of area nonprofits (such as Outside In) to compare his own research to theirs, as each of these nonprofits must have evaluation plans so that they can report to grantmakers. This article would have been spared the level of scrutiny it's (rightly) receiving if it wasn't peppered with smug, false statements such as: "very few academics or scientists have bothered with interviewing panhandlers directly." And I don't know how others define plagiarism, but I grade papers for a living, and if the very first link in a basic google search resulted in an article that began and ended the exact same way as the student's article, and contained cited research that mirrors the only research mentioned (though it was a bit more timely in 2006 than it is now) I'd consider it plagiarism.
Yes, it does. Perhaps the author of this article just copied that line, too.
The homeless population of portland is kinda like the whales of Puget Sound: there's the residents, and then there's the transients. I think (at least in Portland) when people articulate resentment and suspicions of wealth they are primarily talking about the transient population, which does contain some trustafarians having an adventure who could easily call mom and dad if need be. While you mention the average age, you don't mention the youngest people you spoke to, making it unclear what kind of survey sample you were working with, exactly. The responses seem to indicate that you spoke mostly to older people. There's also no mention if you spoke with any Street Roots vendors (and how much they make) or data presented about what the average busker takes in. But, most importantly, the statement about this data being hard to find it absurd. A simple google search for "average homeless income" results in an article that also quotes the Toronto research, with an introduction that bares a striking resemblance to this one. The original article is from 2006. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2255/how-much-money-do-beggars-make
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