Thursday, June 15, 2006

More than your minimum daily requirement of irony

A friend commented on my last post about WebProNews by pointing me toward a story about online plagiarism written by (wait for it) Alex Bard -- aka Mr. Bozo. You'll find it here.

That's pretty rich, I thought. Then it occurred to me: he couldn't have written it himself. He must have stolen that story too. And sure enough, he did.

The original story appeared on the Boston Globe's web site on May 8, 2006. True to form, Bard nicked it the very same day for use on WebProNews.

Here are the first two graphs of the original story, written by Maura Welch:
Beth gets more than 500 hits per day at her blog, Cursed to First, which serves as a very personal homage to the Red Sox and the Patriots, so she knew that spicy entries like ''Chicks dig the long ball" were being read. She didn't realize until recently that they were also being ripped off.

Last month, an alert reader informed Beth that her blog was being plagiarized. Dozens of Beth's blog entries had been stolen, word-for-word, over six months. Names of people in her life were changed to the names of people whom the plagiarist apparently knew, creating the impression that she had lived Beth's experiences and had thought her thoughts.

Here's Alex Bard's version:
Beth's blog got more than 500 hits per day, mostly from Red Sox and New England Patriots fans, not an unusual occurrence since she lives in Boston.

But one of Beth's regular readers told her that her blog was being plagiarized on a regular basis, word-for-word over the past six months. The thief simply changed the names of Beth's friends in her post to those in the thief's post (which was, of course, actually Beth's). Still with me?
The rest of the story follows in a similar vein. In this case, Bard avoids a straight copy-and-paste job and instead goes for a quasi-folksy rewrite. But nowhere does he cite his source or indicate in any way that he did no actual reporting for the story. A less astute reader (I'm guessing WebProNews has a lot of them) would naturally assume Bard found the story himself and talked to the people quoted inside it.

It's beyond unethical. The man should be tarred and feathered, or maybe dipped in boiling hot chocolate sauce and rolled in pecans. He certainly shouldn't be holding down a journalism job, and he wouldn't be if iEntry Inc. were a legitimate publishing concern.

FYI, finding instances of plagiarism like this is really quite easy. Find some sentence in WebProNews that looks slightly less prosaic (quotes usually work nicely), then copy and paste it into Google. In this case, I searched on the phrase "Jonathan Bailey, the author of Plagiarism Today," and got seven hits. One was the Globe story, five others were web digests or blogs that referred to the story. Only WebProNews lifted the article in its entirety.

I have alerted the media, sending emails to editors at all the publications that Bard and WPN have ripped off. I also sent a note to Bailey, who did respond (thanks, Jonathan). So far I've heard precisely nothing back from the editors. Maybe they haven't gotten to my email yet. Or maybe this kind of theft has become so pervasive on the Web that it doesn't phase people anymore. I hope not. Because I'm tired of doing the heavy lifting for these talentless turds. I can't imagine I'm alone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wrote a note to WebPro News and they informed me they took care of it and Alex Bard no longer writes or works for them. Good work.

5:56 PM  

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