From the union of two of the most unlikely news sources in the world — The Bulletin (an alt-weekly out of Montgomery County, Texas) and Slate (a hugely popular online magazine out of Washington, D.C.) — comes a fascinating story of plagiarism and deception that’s only beginning to unravel.
If you want to catch the entire story from the very beginning, check out this Slate piece, published yesterday by music writer Jody Rosen: Dude, You Stole My Article. Capsule format: Rosen discovered through an anonymous email that the “music writer” for The Bulletin had been cribbing his articles — sometimes changing a word or two — and then passing them off as original material. When he dug deeper, Rosen found that the “music writer” had been doing the same thing with other published material from other music writers for years. When Rosen attempted to contact The Bulletin to inform the “editor” of the situation, then things really got crazy…
Our very own Alison Cook — a food writer for the Houston Chronicle, just in case you’re not local — caught the Slate article almost as soon as it came out and was intrigued. She did a little digging of her own into past Bulletin issues and soon found that it wasn’t just music articles that were being plagiarized; food articles were, too.
Which food articles were the result of outright theft? From whom did The Bulletin lift their material? None other than the reigning king of Tex-Mex, local author and Houston Press food writer Robb Walsh. Read Alison’s entire article about it here: Barbecue & plagiarism at Montgomery County’s Bulletin.
Some might say, “Hey, it’s a free publication. They aren’t hurting anyone.” Bullshit. It may be a free publication, distributed in dimly-lit bank lobbies and dirty Jiffy Lubes throughout the bustling metropolii of Conroe and New Caney, but they’re selling ad space. They’re generating revenue. And they’re making money off material that isn’t theirs to make money off of. Someone else busted their ass to create those articles, and some disingenuous asshole comes along, steals it, and passes it off as his own. It’s no different than stealing someone’s credit card number and buying a plasma TV: it isn’t yours, you can’t use it for profit!
One can only imagine what bizarre twists the story will take from here. I’m placing bets right now, though, that “music writer” Mark Williams doesn’t really exist at all, and that the entire publication is run by the shady editor, “Mike Ladyman,” who I imagine also runs the sales desk and the distribution/circulation desk.
Anyone want to start placing their bets on how many more publications The Bulletin has plagiarized? The over/under is at a clean 100 right now…