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Plagiarism or coincidence? Writer, Wall Street Journal square off

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by YankeeFan, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Who do you believe:

  2. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    I understand Flynn being upset, but it seems pretty clear that Boot is in the clear on this -- anyone writing on the subject would use the same studies and references that their articles shared.

    I leave it to others to discuss the ethics of deciding you don't like someone's freelance piece and then commissioning someone else to write the exact same thing for $4k. I suppose you open yourself up to it as a freelancer when you submit a story unsolicited. I will say, though, that the sports editor comes out of this looking like a tool.
  3. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    Boot has a large body of work. (I have a copy of The Savage Wars of Peace on my pinko bookshelves.) If he plagiarized here, he's probably done it before, and there will be people looking for it now. If they don't find it, the only question is PCLL's: Why did the editor throw the topic to someone else?
  4. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I don't blame Boot. But the WSJ and their editors both pushed him in a direction that makes it look a lot like plagiarism.
  5. Tucsondriver

    Tucsondriver Member

    This part stinks:

    "Boot, who was in Thailand at the time, was hesitant at first and asked for time to think it over. But Rosen was encouraging, offering $4,000, for 2,000 words, more than a week to write, and editorial guidance from Sam Walker, the Journal’s Sports editor."

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/daniel-flynn-wall-street-journal-plagiarism-95865.html#ixzz2cxw989Zz
  6. SoCalScribe

    SoCalScribe Member

    Editorial guidance?

    Must be nice...
  7. silent_h

    silent_h Member

    What really stinks is how uninformed Sam Walker - the sports editor of a major national journalism operation - appears to be about the issue of brain trauma in football, which is only one of the biggest sports stories of the decade.

    Not everything fits into political/philosophical meta-narratives.
  8. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I am loathe to say anything bad about the WSJ team, because I really do think there are some good, and honest people there. But Sam Walker needs to stick to fantasy baseball leagues and writing about them. He blew this one with his judgment, and it sounds like Gary Rosen was not entirely above board in his handling of it, and now can't be straight or clean about how wrong this was.

    I have been in this situation. In one case in which I dealt with something similar, I pitched a very unique story that was not timely, as this one is. It was evergreen, but a topic that fit well with the style of a particular magazine and I immediately got good feedback from the editor I pitched. I followed up and he stalled me by saying their next editorial meeting was on Day X, but he liked the idea and after the meeting he'd get back to me.

    That day came and went and he disappeared on me. When I finally got him to respond, I got a faux apologetic e-mail saying that he hadn't realized they already had a similar story in the works. It defied belief, because unlike this case, what I pitched was not something on people's radar screens, had less of a news peg than a human interest peg, and couldn't possibly have been in the minds of multiple people at the exact same time for the same publication.

    When I saw the piece they ran (which was written by someone I consequently found out was a buddy of the a senior editor), they used supporting info I had provided in my pitch, which I crafted to demonstrate that I had done enough to be able to do the piece, but tried not to give away too much.

    It really pissed me off, but I decided to move on rather than fight back the same way Flynn did. I was subtle about expressing my disbelief that one of their editors had already had the same idea, but I didn't hurl any outright accusations. If they had written back to me the way the Journal responded to Flynn, it might have been a different story. The non-response / response I got was a tacit admission that they stole my idea and that was that, and I felt that was the best I was going to get out of the situation (at the time, I relied on relationships for work) -- a subtle admission from them (they couldn't come right out and say it).
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