If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, consider us flattered… and maybe a bit peeved. Last week a reader brought to our attention that someone had stolen our work and used it as their own. After following up on the report, I found that an LPGA Teaching Pro had “borrowed” large chunks of a piece I wrote in January, 2010. Ok, maybe “borrow” is too nice a word. She basically cut and pasted my writing and changed a few words to suit her style. The work in question also happens to be one of my personal favorite articles and is called “Ten Cold Weather Golf Tips”
The timing of the plagiarism was pretty good, as a recent cold snap here in Florida made the article very relevant again. Now, I’m not a professional writer and by no means would I ever refer to myself as a journalist, but it goes without saying that after learning of the theft I took steps to protect my intellectual property by contacting the publication that posted the stolen article – The Tallahassee Democrat and Tallahassee.com. The author of the ripped off article was a freelancer and not directly employed by the paper, but that doesn’t excuse someone for copying someone else’s words, and as a result the paper has severed ties with the copy-cat artist.
While awaiting a response from the publication, I took to Twitter to spread the word and discuss the issue with some of my fellow golf bloggers and friends in the golf industry. The response was predictable. Most everyone was appalled, supportive and wanted to be kept up to date. A few of our close friends lashed out against the writer of the bogus article. While not part of the traditional media like newspapers and magazines, many bloggers take journalistic issues like plagiarism and very seriously. Since starting intothegrain.com I have learned that most golf bloggers tend to support each other and I feel a sense of solidarity with them. The cut-throat competitiveness that exists in traditional media doesn’t exist with bloggers – maybe because we all do this out of a love for the game, and not a mandate to make stockholders rich.
Traditional media or not, no reputable publication in the world will accept work that isn’t original, and the Tallahassee Democrat is no exception. After verifying the facts and comparing works, they acted ethically and swiftly to remove the article in question and published a correction/apology in today’s paper and at Tallahassee.com, which I gladly accepted. I appreciate the way the Executive Editor and his staff handled the situation, and I want to publicly thank the attentive reader who brought the issue to my attention on Tuesday.
This unfortunate sequence of events did lead to a happy ending however. Established in 1905 and reaching over 155,000 readers every week, The Tallahassee Democrat and Tallahassee.com are part of the Gannett Company – A worldwide network of newspapers, broadcast companies and other communications-related interests, and they happen to be down one contributing golf writer. Since they liked my writing enough to publish it in the first place, they have extended me an invitation to contribute original articles for the paper and website going forward. So, as time permits and when relevant I will be happy and honored to contribute to the Democrat, and I look forward to extending the reach and audience of intothegrain.com!
Thanks again to all my readers, supporters, friends and advisers. You all are the reason this site exists and why I have so much fun bringing it to you!
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