Aug 10, 2008

Texas alt-weekly folds

Shortly after exposed what appears to be a brazen, unapologetic and long-lasting bout of plagiarism at The Bulletin of Montgomery County, Texas, the paper's publisher, Mike Ladyman, decided to fold the publication rather than face more scrutiny.

In an interview with the Houston Press, Ladyman criticizes Slate writer Jody Rosen for bringing the plagiarism to his attention in an inconvenient and unpleasant manner:

Other than the three articles Rosen showed him in June, the three that he took down off the web, Ladyman says Rosen never showed him any other examples of plagiarism in the Bulletin before publishing his attack online. Ladyman doesn’t consider this an honorable course of action.

“If I would have had the opportunity to look at any of these things, I would have not only pulled them down, I would have apologized, I would have written a written apology and I wouldn’t have been working with Mark anymore."

The "Mark" Ladyman refers to is Mark Williams, the writer whose byline accompanies all of the offending articles. While due diligence is not one of Ladyman's strong suits, he did at one point confront Williams with some of the evidence of plagiarism:

“When I contacted Mark about it he said that’s what was in the press releases they sent me. I know in today’s day and age, and I know maybe they shouldn’t, but I do understand what writers do and they do tend to maybe use too much of the PR that’s fed to them,” Ladyman says.

In other words, Williams didn't steal original work, he merely stole press releases. Though this form of plagiarism may be less troubling to Ladyman, Rosen's article makes quite clear the plagiarism went much further than "too much of the PR".

Williams penned his own bitter letter to Rosen that's also included in the Houston Press story. In it, Williams blames the Slate writer for using his big city skills to knock a poor rube from his tenuous hold on the writing life. Here's an excerpt:

It must have taken years of seasoned investigative know-how to push me off my lofty perch. It takes a dogged, intrepid journalist to expose the alleged wrongdoings of a 44-year-old college dropout who drifted from one lousy media job to another for 20 years; it takes courage to debase someone with a mouthful of cut-rate dentures who, up until 2007, lived in his parents’ home for seven years due to near-fatal bouts of clinical depression; it takes a journalist of a certain caliber to torpedo a pathetic hack who has barely squeezed out a living for nearly a decade at seven cents a word.

No comments: