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How Ted Koppel and ABC TV Tried to Steal my Life Work

8 Dec

How Ted Koppel and ABC TV Tried to Steal my Life Work

By Nate Thayer

December 8, 2013

I am banned by legal agreement to write the following: ABC Television/ Disney Corporation, after seven years in court, where they attempted to bankrupt me and ruin my reputation for objecting to them stealing fifteen years of my life work, buckled and paid me. They have the legal right to take back the money they finally paid me–which actually all went to lawyers and taxes–if I open my mouth.

Fuck them.

Good luck getting blood from a stone while trying to attempt to muzzle a free person in a free society while claiming you are an icon of the free press and free speech

So here goes…..

On July 25, 1997, I was the first outsider to meet Pol Pot since he killed 1.8 million people 20 years before.

It was, for a couple of days, the biggest story in the world. I, as a freelance journalist, had the only photographs and video and eyewitness account that existed since Pol Pot did what he did. It was a tumultuous few days of dealing with the very worst of what the big media companies represented.

Ted Koppel, of ABC Nightline, flew to Bangkok to view the video and signed a written contract for “North American video rights only for 7 days.” ABC America–owned by Disney–told Koppel to sign whatever Thayer asks for–our lawyers will deal with it later. He is just a freelancer. Give him whatever he wants. We can bankrupt him if he objects.

As soon as ABC, which had exactly zero correspondents in Southeast Asia, got a hold of a copy of the tape, which Ted Koppel personally and in writing promised he would not allow any frame grabs to be made into still pictures, or allow the video to be distributed to anyone outside of Nightline, or allow the transcript of the text of the video to be shown to anyone else, ABC created the below frame grabs from the video, distributed it personally to numerous news outfits, including the AP and the New York Times, where it appeared on their front page above the fold, and ABC placed them on their website crediting themselves with having taken the image.

My picture, credited to ABC TV, was published on the front pages of hundreds of newspapers around the world, my footage was distributed around the globe, and my story was written in virtually every major news organ on earth, credited to ABC TV, before I actually had written my own story . which was published with the integrity and dignity and seriousness it deserved in my excellent publication, the Far Eastern Economic Review.

1018923 Pol Pot ABC Frame Grab Pic

ABC TV stolen pictures frame grab from my copyrighted work. Count them--four separate credits demanding ABC be given credit for photographs taken when ABC did b not even have a staff person in all of Southeast Asia. This photo was hand delivered to the New York Times, The AP and posted on ABC's website

ABC TV stolen pictures frame grab from my copyrighted work. Count them–four separate credits demanding ABC be given credit for photographs taken when ABC did b not even have a staff person in all of Southeast Asia. This photo was hand delivered to the New York Times, The AP and posted on ABC’s website

ABC distributed transcripts of the trial of Pol Pot I had made and allowed other news organizations to view the video tape with strict instructions to credit ABC for the images and story, and then refused to pay me anything unless I signed a release that they did nothing wrong and I promised not to take legal action against them.

I refused.

Nine months later, I won the Peabody award as a “correspondent for ABC Nightline.”

Ted Koppel called me up, nervous, to congratulate me.

I said “Fuck you! Where is my fucking money? I am going to go to the Peabody awards ceremony and refuse the award and tell the planet what unethical thieves ABC are and how you, Ted Koppel, acted as their pimp.” I was then banned from attending the award ceremony, escorted out of the Waldorf Astoria hotel banquet room by security guards.

I spent seven years in court fighting ABC.

I won, sort of.

It sucked the life out of me, which was the exact intention of ABC: to make my life as miserable and expensive and distracted as possible to punish me for objecting to bald plagiarism, fraud, and theft. They tried to bankrupt me and ruin my reputation.

But ABC fucked with the wrong person. They will never fuck with Nate Thayer again.

It was worth it. They thought I would back down in the face of their team of hundreds of staff lawyers and corporate power.

I refused.

Such is the life of freelance journalism.

Every freelance journalist alive has suffered under the corporate jackboot of the ABC’s of the media world, their work stolen and never compensated. Usually it is not possible to pay for a legal team to fight them to get remunerated for one’s work.

Above and below are a couple of the still pictures, still available by a simple Google search online.

Another ABC frame grab of my still pictures, taken after 15 years of work, which they distributed to the planet and took credit for

Another ABC frame grab of my still pictures, taken after 15 years of work, which they distributed to the planet and took credit for

These are just some examples of the still picture ABC frame grab’s ABC took from the video and distributed to the world, voiding scores of contracts I had sold for my stills for exclusive rights.I had scores of contracts for the sale of still pictures, video, and stories cancelled around the globe overnight.

ABC tried to take credit for 15 years of my life work. Below is one of my original still photographs, which became worthless overnight because  a degraded version was available for free from the ABC website.

CAMBODIA-POL-POT/WALK

One of my actual still photographs–taken by me–with a Nikon F-4 on July 25, 1997—the first pictures of Pol Pot taken since he murdered 1.8 million people during his 3 years 8 months and 20 days in power

polpot.abc

My still photograph, which became worthless on the international market after ABC TV America stole my pictures and tried to take credit for 15 years of my life work

My still photograph, which became worthless on the international market after ABC TV America stole my pictures and tried to take credit for 15 years of my life work

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“The ethics of not paying writers in exchange for ‘exposure’: A debate #paythewriter

14 Aug
Thanks to professor of journalism Kevin Lerner of Marist College for organizing a discussion on “The Ethics and Economics of Paying Writers with Exposure and a Byline” at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication held last week in Washington D.C.
A full transcript was made by Kevin Lerner and posted on his blog here: http://presscriticism.com/2013/08/14/free-lancing-the-ethics-and-economics-of-paying-writers-with-exposure-and-a-byline-an-aejmc-magazine-division-panel/
Some excerpts from Kevin Lerner’s blog are reproduced below.
AUGUST 14, 2013

FREE-lancing: The ethics and economics of paying writers with exposure and a byline, an AEJMC Magazine Division panel

Left to right: Kevin Lerner (Marist College), Matt Yglesias (Slate), Mike Madden (Washington City Paper), Kevin Stoker (Texas Tech University), Nate Thayer (Freelance Journalist); (photo by Elizabeth Hendrickson)

Left to right: Kevin Lerner (Marist College), Matt Yglesias (Slate), Mike Madden (Washington City Paper), Kevin Stoker (Texas Tech University), Nate Thayer (Freelance Journalist); (photo by Elizabeth Hendrickson)

On Friday, August 9, the Magazine Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication sponsored a panel to discuss the “ethics and economics” of unpaid freelancing. Is it OK, the panel asked, for editors to ask journalists to give them stories in exchange for “exposure”? Is there ever a time when a reporter might want to make that bargain?

The panel was inspired by the freelance journalist Nate Thayer, as I explain in my introductory remarks below. I also invited Slate’s business and economics correspondent Matthew Yglesias; the editor of City Paper, Washington’s alternative weekly newspaper Mike Madden; and Kevin Stoker, an administrator at Texas Tech University and a scholar of media ethics. I thank them for their permission to post this transcript of the panel, which was held at the AEJMC 2013 conference at the Renaissance Washington Midtown.

Panelists:

  • Matthew Yglesias, business and economics correspondent, Slate
  • Nate Thayer, freelance journalist
  • Kevin Stoker, Texas Tech
  • Mike Madden, Editor, Washington City Paper
  • Kevin Lerner, Marist College, moderator

Excerpts of transcript of August 9, 2013 panel discussion in Washington D.C. (For full transcript see http://presscriticism.com/2013/08/14/free-lancing-the-ethics-and-economics-of-paying-writers-with-exposure-and-a-byline-an-aejmc-magazine-division-panel/#comment-734)

Kevin Lerner: Hi everybody. The double room makes this look like a sparse turnout, but I’m hoping people will trickle in. My name is Kevin Lerner, from Marist College, and this is a sole-sponsored Magazine Division Professional Freedom & Responsibility panel called “FREE-lancing: the ethics and economics of paying writers—although the online schedule says “exposures,” which makes it sound like photography—and a byline. But I was not responsible for copyediting that. We’ve got a blockbuster panel here, and I’d like to start by introducing our panelists, who are all to my left. So, directly to my left, we have Matt Yglesias, business and economics correspondent for Slate. To his left, Mike Madden, who’s the editor of Washington City Paper, the alternative newsweekly. To his left, we have Kevin Stoker, an associate dean at Texas Tech and part of the Media Ethics Division here. And finally to his left, at the opposite end of the table from me, we have Nate Thayer, who is a freelance journalist.

So very quickly about where this panel came from. Some of you may know this story, and it all started with the man to my far left, Nate Thayer, who inspired this. So in early March of this year, Thayer had written a piece for NKNews.org, which is a North Korean specialist site, and North Korea is one of his specialities in reporting. He has over 25 years of reporting experience. He’s covered Cambodia, North Korea, Iraq. So an experienced freelance journalist, and he had written the piece for NK News. It had come to the attention of an editor at The Atlantic, and she contacted him and NK News and said, we’d like to rerun this piece, could you do a version of this for The Atlantic. And the piece was timely. You may remember when Dennis Rodman had been to North Korea. The article was about the history of “basketball diplomacy” in North Korea. And like any freelance journalist, he said yes, I would be happy to have the opportunity to have my piece on your site. And he asked the three questions that a freelance journalist wants answered: When is it due? How many words? And, How much are you going to pay me? And the answers came back: End of the week. 1200 words. And… We get 13 million viewers a month, but our freelance budget is gone, so I’m sorry, we’re not in a position to pay you.

And Nate put that up on his personal blog, the email exchange between him and the editor. And it took off. It hit MediaBistro and all of the usual media gossip sites and it created a discussion in the industry about what’s right and wrong about paying a writer. Is it ethical to “pay” just by saying you’re going to get 13 million people to see this? Is that OK? Is that something that a freelance writer might want to do? Is it different at the beginning of your career or the end of your career? When do you give your work for nothing?

So that’s the topic of this panel. I’ve asked the four panelists to have a little bit of an opening statement, to put their positions out there. Then I have a few questions. Then we’re going to open it up to you in the audience.

I’d like to actually ask Nate to start, since he started this whole thing, and maybe say a few words about the life of a freelance writer, since the post he put up was just called, very blandly, “A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer, 2013.” Because it seems like half the time, a freelance writer is negotiating pay, and the rest of the time doing copyediting for corporations and public relations firms. So I’ll start with Nate. Just say a few words. I appreciate it.

Nate Thayer: Thanks, thanks for having me. Yeah, I should probably give a little bit of context to this, because believe me, I was as surprised as anybody else. I’m actually a Luddite; I’m a tech idiot, and I’ve been a journalist for 25 years. I was just saying to Kevin that you know, it was actually under two years ago before I actually even used a computer to research an article. I probably should have beforehand, but I just didn’t. My own personal focus in journalism is longer, investigative journalism, and much of my career has been spent overseas, much of it in countries where I didn’t even have electricity, or even less a telephone. And if you’re in the middle of nowhere, the fact is, the story doesn’t happen until you get back and file it, and it can be a couple weeks later. I have to say that I acknowledge that I really am an idiot and behind the times on some of this stuff. So in the context of that, I do realize fully that the future is in this amazing, wonderful, borderless world of free flow of information. I’m not that much of an idiot. I do have a blog. It automatically puts it on Twitter and on Facebook, and that’s about as complicated as I get.

Anyways, the actual reality was that this conversation I had with The Atlantic was in fact a very civil, normal conversation. I’ve had the same conversation with several hundred people over the last decade, and every freelance journalist has. It’s the norm.

I wasn’t actually pissed off. I was, you know, mildly annoyed enough to take the six-email exchange, cut and paste them, put a headline on it that said “A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist.” I think I put one line at the top, another line at the bottom, and I pressed send on my irrelevant blog, which had less than 100 readers a day, mainly family and colleagues, and which I never promote, and I went to bed. I woke up in the morning and I had 25,000 emails in my inbox, and I had made at that time exactly four tweets in my life. So I looked and I saw that within hours there were 100,000 people who had read this thing. It was a kind of odd day. In fact it kind of fucked up my day, and I really had no idea what really was going on. But I did find it fascinating. And 80,000 of these people came from Twitter, and another 50,000 from Facebook, and it took on a life of its own. But in fact it really had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t exactly a brilliant piece, in fact I didn’t even write it—it was an email cut and paste exchange. But it clearly hit a chord. Clearly, because by the end of the day, I had 500,000 people. I actually did the calculation: it was a 33,973% increase from the traffic the day before. So something had happened. But I really should say that was the full extent with The Atlantic. It wasn’t David and Goliath. I didn’t have some fucking beef with The Atlantic. There was no Nate Thayer jihad against The Atlantic. That was the sum total of my communication with The Atlantic. I hadn’t talked to them since eight years before when the then-editor actually hired me to go on staff for a considerable amount more than 13 million viewers reading my stuff. In fact it was $125,000 a year for six articles and I could write for anyone else. So I think the context of it is that the world has changed, as I think any freelance journalist knows. And I really don’t know how… I still get over 100 readers a day to that article six months later. And I’ve gotten well over 200 personal emails from other writers, including six Pulitzer Prize winners who said The Atlantic has done the same goddamn thing to them, many of them in the same week. So the idea that this was a mistake and it wasn’t their policy? They’re really full of shit. That’s one reason it took off. Because you know, they certainly had a budget to hire a PR firm, which may be part of the problem, so that they could lie about what their policy was, and then really piss off journalists. Because if you really want to piss off journalists, lie to them.

Whatever happened, I still haven’t really wrapped my head around it. But it is interesting, and it certainly resonated with me and really almost with everybody else I know who’s worked as a freelance journalist. This happens all the time. The fact is we are now in this amazingly positive new world of borderless information, but no one’s figured out how to make any fucking money out of it. So, you know, until they come up with a viable business model—which someone will, soon, because there’s a demand for quality journalism, and it costs money. So someone’s got to figure out a way to make that happen, and they’re going to figure it out soon. I just hope they do it before I starve to death and get evicted. Which would be a plus. But it’s all really positive. But I think we’re in this abyss period between the combination of the downturn in the economy, the downturn in the metrics of the print publishing industry, and the rise of digital journalism has made it really really difficult to make a living as a journalist. And not just as a freelance journalist. I mean the fact is, and I’ll finish this off by saying, the one really true reality is that you really can’t believe anything you fucking read anymore. You can’t. You can’t believe it on the Net because they’ve fired all the editors, they’ve fired all the fact checkers, and really, the motivation is to get as many clicks and hits on your web site as you can, regardless, really, if it’s true. And obviously, I’m exaggerating for the point of debate, to a degree, but that’s really the larger reality. So to me it’s a really serious problem. Obviously, it’s a serious problem because it’s making it hard to make a living, which frankly, three or four years ago, it never even crossed my mind. I spent 30 years, I’ve been very lucky, I’ve done well. It never was an issue. I never wanted to get rich, but I could always pay my bills. Now, that’s just not the case. So that’s one thing on a personal level, but on the, other, more important level, is the effect it’s having on the institution of the free press and free society. The quality of journalism that’s coming out now is horrific. It’s unacceptable. And the reason is because it costs money to do it. And some people are under the misimpression that people are going to accept substandard quality journalism in the stead of real reporting, and I’m absolutely convinced that they’re wrong, and that sometime, relatively soon, someone’s going to figure out how to create a model where everyone can make money in order to produce a quality product. So on that positive, I’m also ten days late on my rent.

Lerner: Mike, could you take this from the point of view of an editor? You’ve worked as a freelancer…

Mike Madden: …..Although, I wanted to ask you [to Thayer] you were talking about the traffic you got on that blog post, and I know you prefaced that by saying you were a bit of a Luddite, but were you able to quickly set up a Google AdWords thing and you could have made some money off of the exchanges.

Thayer: I have not made a penny off it. I did not organize advertising. Although, since this whole thing, I have also looked more closely at how you can make money. And there are all kinds of ways out there. One organization I do work for is called NK News. We have the same problem everyone else does: we’re trying to figure out how to bring quality news on North Korea to people who have an unhealthy interest in North Korea. And we haven’t been able to figure it out. We’re losing money on it. But everyone’s trying, and I have not succeeded………

Yglesias: Absolutely, but I think that is in a lot of ways the most promising kind of free content that you get is along those lines. You go to someone who is at The Center for Global Development and you say—I mean a particular problem that we have is that there’s not a huge amount of audience interest in foreign affairs. But there isn’t zero interest. It’s not a toxic subject, but it’s not a killer for us the way the Dear Prudence advice column is. And at the same time, advertisers don’t love Dear Prudence’s weird questions about bestiality, and they also don’t love articles about depressing famines in North Korea. For similar reasons. So if you want to get coverage of these super sad, medium traffic subjects, it’s difficult to turn that into tons of revenue. But we want to do it because we believe in journalism, and we want to do it because there’s some audience there, and when you can find opportunities to get people—it might have been that in the days of yore, they would have been the sources for articles—if you can get them to be the authors of articles, then that’s a real advantage. That’s an advantage to the world. And I think what The Atlantic does, where they’re just kind of propositioning professionals, professional freelance writers who are established in their careers, it doesn’t make a ton of sense. I wonder how much success they have getting anyone to actually agree to that proposition. I think we try not to say things to people that are going to be insulting or ridiculous for them to do. That’s common sense. But I think that the sentiment that I sometimes hear from writers—that people shouldn’t be doing stuff for free—well, who’s talking to you for these articles? It’s people doing things for free.

Madden: Yeah. We don’t get a lot of rewrites for $25 or $50.

Lerner: Is that different than writing for free?

Madden: It’s not that different, no.

Thayer: It is different. It’s fundamentally different, and I think it goes back to what several people were saying. To me, anyways, it’s the fundamental problem of for-profit media companies as a central business strategy eliminating paying the producer of the product which they sell so that they can increase their fucking profit margin. That’s really what it is. I write for free all the time. I’ve written for free for 30 years. I’ve written probably 1000 articles for free. Because, for whatever circumstances, for non-profits, or people where I’m interested in the issue. My blog is for free. I use Facebook copiously as a professional tool. That’s all for free. I don’t have any objection to writing for free. And depending on your circumstances, it’s true for a lot of people.

There’s a couple things that have struck me here. Slate still owes me $3000 for going to Iraq, for which they’ve never paid me, three years ago. Now this is not something new for any journalist anywhere. It happens to everybody. This idea of user-generated content, which I don’t know exactly what that means. There’s probably a more direct way of putting it. But the fact is that that, and the issue of, ok, people do work because they are going to be quoted or contributed to the article, I don’t buy that at all. They’re interested parties. Our job as a journalist is basically, I’ve spent most of my life sitting in a hotel room, waiting for someone to come down and lie to me. And that happens all the time in various degrees for all the information you get. And your job is to sift through it and come through with something that’s as close to what’s accurate and balanced and in the public interest as you can. One of the things that really bothers me about the new business model is that sure, there are people who will write for free. But most of them have institutional support. They have real jobs. They’re academics, they’re scholars, they have people who pay their rent, who pay for the bills to live. So they’re not actually journalists. They’re trying to sell a book. I mean I was a scholar in residence at Johns Hopkins at SAIS down the street here for a year. They gave me a full salary to sit in my office and think.

Madden: But you were still a journalist when you were doing that. You weren’t not actually a journalist just because you had some other way of paying your bills.

Thayer: No, I took a year off from my paid job with the Far Eastern Economic Review because I got kicked out of the country I was working in, and I needed some place to go, and they gave me this scholar in residence thing. And the thing that struck me was that all of these academics, if they could get quoted in the newspaper, that was really big for their resume. Or if they could even publish an article, that was really big. Now it’s standard but it’s being couched as legitimate news. It’s not legitimate news. They are an interested party, often, in the subject matter. And so I object to that being a substitute for legitimate, quality journalism. I read the stuff all the time. I find it interesting; it’s interesting source material. But I know that they’re not the internal standards of a news operation that has the whole sausage-making process that makes sure that when I send something in, it has to go through a very rigorous process to make sure that by the time it gets to print it’s not biased, it’s properly sourced, it’s corroborated, it’s accurate and so on and so forth. And that’s missing in so much, including the brand name former journalism outfits. There’s so much pressure to get everything out there quickly and to get page hits that the idea of quality news has taken a serious back seat, and that makes me very very uncomfortable, and I don’t think it’s a substitute for quality news.

And actually, on our panel here, both Slate and the City Paper, which I’m a big fan particularly of—I’d be a bigger fan of Slate if they’d pay me the money they’ve owed me for ten goddamned years—

Yglesias: That seems fair.

Thayer: But the City Paper is an excellent paper, and the fact that they each pay something means that what we do for a living is worthy, and I believe, I will go to my grave knowing that what we do for a living is not only worthy, it’s vital to a free society and it needs to be defended, and it costs money to produce, and someone’s got to figure out a way to do it. The fact is that people who own these publications—and they have to be private businesses; they can’t be government, otherwise we’d be Pravda, right—they really don’t care whether they’re selling toothpaste or news to free people. If they make more money on toothpaste, they’ll sell toothpaste. So I think the question everyone agrees with here is that someone’s got to come up with a way to first recognize the value of quality news, see that we’re not getting it now, and figure out a way to make money in the process so that we’re able to have it.

……..Thayer: You [Yglesias] mentioned an analogy earlier that people don’t want to read about bestiality, but in fact, I bet you, if the City Paper, which runs a wonderful column which often focuses on bestiality…

Madden: Oh, people love reading about bestiality.

Yglesias: No, I’m saying that advertisers don’t want to be on that page.

Thayer: I’m saying that the page right next to that probably has a higher advertising rate.

Yglesias: No, no…

Madden: It does, but only among a restricted pool of advertisers.

Yglesias: Chrysler doesn’t like bestiality………..

Audience question: Someone mentioned musicians. I’m with a group of harpists, and someone will say, “Oh, play for my wedding, you’ll get tons of exposure.” Well, you can die of exposure, too. But yeah, they feel this just as strongly, always being asked to do stuff for free.

Madden: That’s a particularly nervy pitch. How many people at their wedding are going to be in need of another harpist?

Audience: Exactly. And somebody mentioned before about profits, and it’s really true. These people are making obscene profits. I was at an organization where the top people were making $200,000–$300,000 salaries a year, and we were lucky to be squeezing $50,000 a year, which is not much in D.C. And if you look at a place like HuffPost, Arianna is just raking in the millions. So does anybody have an answer for—Huffington Post is a great example: they’re rich, they’re oozing money. There’s staff in New York, and you know they’re not there for free. But they won’t pay…

Thayer: I have an answer: Don’t fucking write for them. Arianna Huffington’s entire business model is based on not paying the people who produce their product, so that they can make money. She just sold her company for $317 million, based all on people’s writing. When the Atlantic article came out, I was kind of impressed by their hubris, they called me up and asked me to come onto the Huffington Post TV station and talk about this issue. And I said, “I’d be happy to, but you’d be under a profound delusion if you expect me not to bring up the fact that the Huffington Post is the poster child of this whole problem. And make sure that your bosses are aware of that.” And I got a call back about an hour later, disinviting me……

Thayer: But they also have what is a fundamental problem: most of their stuff is people who have an agenda, a political agenda, a financial agenda. And it’s being couched and presented as news. It’s not……

Thayer: Actually, for The Atlantic, and I actually do know this because I have literally gotten several thousand personal communications from people. The Atlantic policy is not to pay people. You know the line they said, “We’re out of a freelance budget, but we have 13 million readers”? I have exactly 412 emails from people who told me the exact same quote, verbatim. So it’s not a matter of them being out. So that’s an Atlantic policy. I think it’s part of their business plan—because it works. And I don’t hold it against them because their job is to increase their profit margin. That’s what they do, and if they can get that product and they think that readers will be satisfied with it.

But I think there’s a Ponzi game going on around this, that people are under the delusion that they’re actually getting the same quality news that they were getting prior to this wonderful, positive transformation that we still haven’t figured out how it’s going to work out. That they’re still getting the same quality news that the brand names produced before we entered this period. That’s just not true. It’s not true with TheAtlantic.com and what you get in print. It’s not true with the WashingtonPost.com and what you get in the Washington Post, and they’re saying that it is, that they’re using the same internal standards. And I think that part of that—to address your question—I used to work for Dow Jones, which owned The Wall Street Journal and the magazine that I worked for, called the Far Eastern Economic Review, and most of their people went over to Reuters, and a similar thing is happening with Bloomberg. And what they’re buying is people with a name. And I was approached by several people several years ago where they wanted to pay me more money than I needed or probably deserved because they thought that I had a name. The bigger thing that that translates into, and that’s really a big shift, which makes me uncomfortable with being trained—and I did not go to journalism school either, I started out with the Associated Press for several years and a number of other publications—and it makes me very uncomfortable to market myself. I’ve now kind of gotten over that, because that’s really where we’re going, where people have to individually market themselves in order to make a living. But what a lot of these companies are doing is that they’re putting the bulk of their money, and offering big salaries—and Reuters did this when they had the big turnover a couple years ago—they hired away all kinds of big name people for ridiculous salaries. And the journeyman workers at Reuters, who actually do very well because they have a very good union, get paid considerably less. So a big part of this money is going into the trend of people promoting themselves or where they think when people read the news, they look at who it is that’s writing the article—as opposed to what it used to be, and I’m more comfortable with, which is that when I pick up The New York Times, I know that there is an internal process, which means that whatever shows up in that paper has a degree of credibility. That’s why I buy that as opposed to, say, The Washington Times, or the National Enquirer. I know what I’m getting when I read it. And now I don’t know. And on the web you do not know what you’re getting at all. And in fact, a lot of what they say you’re getting, you’re really not getting at all. Because there is no vetting. There is no more internal sausage-making process.

I have a friend who is a Washington correspondent for a major news chain, who now pushes the send button when he’s sitting in Congress, covering a hearing. It doesn’t even go through an editor. That’s how much pressure there is to get stuff out quickly and what falls victim to that is the quality of news……….

Thayer: The Atlantic policy is—they’re actually on the record because they put out a press release after my ridiculous little post on my irrelevant little blog, saying that they do pay people and that this was a mistake by a new employee, and so on. That’s just not true. They don’t pay people. But what they do say is that what you read on The Atlantic, you can believe based on the credibility—and The Atlantic’s a wonderful magazine. I have no beef with The Atlantic. It’s a systemic problem. And certainly this poor woman, Olga—and I feel really bad because God knows what grief she got for this—she was just doing her job. But The Atlantic promotes itself as, when you read The Atlantic, you know what you’re getting based on their very high internal quality standards. My point is, in this new digital age, that’s all a lie. You don’t get that. The other transition period that we’re in is that people still believe that when you read The Washington Post online, or The Atlantic online, they’re getting the same thing that they got beforehand. And that’s just not true.

For the full transcript of the discussion with thoughtful, good arguments and points of view by Slate’s business and economics correspondent Matthew Yglesias; the editor of City Paper, Washington’s alternative weekly newspaper Mike Madden; Kevin Stoker, of Texas Tech University and a scholar of media ethics; Kevin Lerner, professor of journalism at Marist college; and excellent questions from an audience of journalism of scholars and academics, please go to Kevin Lerner’s excellent blog here: http://presscriticism.com/2013/08/14/free-lancing-the-ethics-and-economics-of-paying-writers-with-exposure-and-a-byline-an-aejmc-magazine-division-panel/#comment-734

A Peak In the Public Mailbox: Debate on state of journalism runs from supportive to, well, very not–with a dash of the amusing and odd.

14 Apr

A Peak Into the Public Mailbox: Debate on state of journalism runs from very supportive to, well, very not–with an entertaining dash of the amusing and odd.

Maybe the North Korean Ministry of Agitation and Propaganda are on to Something

By Nate Thayer

April 13, 2013

In the last few weeks I can’t help but to have the thought that this mass adulation of free speech, critical thinking, debate-the-issues-important-to-the-common-good-in- the-public-square shtick, might be a bit over-hyped.

I confess to fleeting feelings of sympathy for the approach taken by, say, the authorities of North Korea, whose citizens enjoy the warm serenity protected in the womb of The Mother Party, where the destabilizing consequences to the public order of expressing an opinion have been cleverly addressed by not allowing the Proletariat to say, well, just about anything. The masses are not burdened with such tangential tasks and can just concentrate on basking in the bounty of opportunity and human dignity provided for them by those in their halls of power.

Some elements of the entrenched Free Press would appear to better serve the interests of society under the benevolent supervision and guidance of the Ministry of Agitation and Propaganda.

But that sentiment I enjoy only in my fleeting twisted Walter Mitty moments. Continue reading

The Atlantic feels the heat from journalism for no pay business model: “Our Freelance Rates Vary” says Editor James Bennet

5 Mar

The Atlantic responds to my blog post that has gone viral with more than 100,000 viewers to this blog since this morning, and thousands of retweets, reblogs, online discussions, and news articles from a global community concerned about the critically wounded state of professional journalism. I will be writing more on this topic in the near future once I wrap my head around why a story of an email exchange between a major news organization seeking to commission my professional services with the condition that they don’t contribute to paying my rent, putting food in my stomach, or keeping me clothed to protect me from the elements, that took fifteen minutes to write and never crossed my mind would hit a nerve with tens of thousands globally garnering more attention than any story since I found Pol Pot in the jungles of Cambodia. There is a message in there somewhere.


From James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic

Atlantic staff journalists write most of the stories on our sites. When we publish original, reported work by freelancers, we pay them. Our freelance rates vary, depending on the kind of work involved. We do publish some unpaid pieces, typically analysis or commentary by non-journalists, if the work meets our standards and if, of course, the writer sees value in publishing with us. We don’t force anyone to contribute to us, and we are extremely grateful to the wonderful writers who do.

The case involving Nate Thayer is unusual. We did not ask him to report and write an original piece for us, but we did ask if he’d be interested in posting a condensed version of an article he had already published elsewhere, which we would have done with full credit to the original publisher. We rarely do this outside our established partnerships, but we were enthusiastic about bringing Thayer’s work to a larger audience – an outcome, I guess, we have now, backhandedly, achieved. We’re sorry we offended him.

Media Relations Contact:
Natalie Raabe
The Atlantic
(202) 266-7533
nraabe@theatlantic.com

What do Kim Il Sung, Hun Sen Have In Common with Animal Pets? They All Obtained Bogus College Degrees

24 Feb

What do Dictators Have In Common with American Animal Pets? Kim Il Sung, Hun Sen, Other Third World Dictators Have Bogus College Degrees

 By Nate Thayer

After handing over all cameras, passing through metal detectors and patted down by soldiers of the Korean People’s Army checking for explosives and weapons, passing through a purification chamber with powerful jets of air to remove any specks of dirt clinging to unwashed foreign visitors, boarding the world’s longest moving walkway normally reserved for international airports, pausing to admire a large white statue of Kim Il-Sung bathed in a pink and blue lighting while music plays in the background, visitors to the mausoleum are granted access to a dimly lit room with high ceilings in the center of which is a glass coffin containing the actual corpse of  Kim Il Sung.

After paying homage to the Great Leader, visitors are escorted to yet another room and issued audio headsets with a British accented English voice weeping in dramatic tone on the demise of the man described as the greatest leader in the history of mankind while viewing a giant world map depicting every place Kim visited during his lifetime, and mementos of gifts bestowed, personal possessions, and awards granted.

Prominently displayed there is a PhD Doctor of Philosophy diploma from Kensington University of Glendale California.

TOURfakeresumes

But Kensington University is a fake degree program long shuttered as a fraud degree issuing mill where it was once located run out of an obscure lawyer’s office in Glendale, California.

Kensington University has since been closed by the government of California since 1996 for being a fraudulent diploma mill issuing anything from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate in exchange for cash requiring no actual work, without ever attending a single class or meeting an instructor, no classrooms, laboratories or dormitories with the entire campus housed in a lawyer’s office in a non-descript building in California. In its decision to close Kensington University the state Council for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education ruled Kensington awarded degrees lacking ‘credible academic standards” with “little or no rigor or credible academic standards are necessary in order to be awarded an advanced degree at Kensington University.” It relocated to Hawaii until that state government shut it down for good in 2003. The State of Texas passed a law making it illegal to use a degree from Kensington University on a job application, and other states which refused to recognize the university included Maine, Oregon and Michigan.

Fatwah.com Leader with Kensington University Degree

Fatwah.com Leader with Kensington University Degree

These revelations have not, however, sufficiently concerned the Pyongyang government enough to deter them displaying the Kensington University PhD diploma alongside his embalmed corpse at his mausoleum in Kumsusan Memorial Palace, in Pyongyang, along with a peace medal from Japan, which lies next to his “Medal “For the Victory over Japan”” awarded by the also now late Soviet Union in a room dominated by large paintings and photographs of Kim Il-sung meeting various world leaders, most of whom have since been violently overthrown by their own people during popular revolutions, including Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Nicolai Ceauşescu of Romania, Erich Honecker of East Germany, Gustáv Husák of former Czechoslovakia, Wojciech Jaruzelski of Poland, Todor Zhivkov of Bulgaria, János Kádár of Hungary, Houari Boumediene of Algeria, and Moktar Ould Daddah of Mauritania.

Kim Il Sung is not the only high profile dubious political leader to have obtained a degree from Kensington University. Continue reading

The Plague of Online Plagiarism: A Case Study of the Anatomy of Journalistic Theft from my Facebook Page

23 Nov

The Plague of Online Plagiarism: A Case Study of the Anatomy of Journalistic Theft from my Facebook Page

The decline of Journalism Standards and Ethics in the Age of the Internet

By Nate Thayer

Being a freelance journalist is tough enough these days, and I am not alone in providing what I do for a living far too often for free these days.

But worse is the alarmingly common and increasing trend in the age of online journalism of having ones work baldly being plagiarized,  reprinted without compensation, citation, or attribution to the sourcing by for profit media organizations. Plagiarism is widely defined as “copying or stealing someone else’s words or ideas and claiming or presenting them as if they were your own.” Details on the definitions, origins, and concept of plagiarism are provided at the end of this post.

For freelancers without the institutional support and resources to effectively object to this most immoral, egregious and serious violation of journalistic standards and ethics, this is not a new problem. But since the utter collapse of the business model for traditional media outlets that has evaporated most jobs in journalism as online media has transformed the profession, its effects are concrete and crippling.

For purposes of emphasis, I offer a couple of details that I am less than comfortable with sharing. These are times in which I am usually unable to pay my rent or bills in a timely manner and keep sufficient food in the refrigerator. I am unable to afford such things as an iPhone, to repair my currently non-functioning most important possession, my sole computer—the very lifeline that puts food on my table, clothes to protect me from the elements, and shelter over my head. To be fully honest, these are times I cannot even afford an internet subscription ( I place my laptop by an open window and illicitly tap into neighbors wifi while having to constantly shift the position of the machine to get a strong enough signal). Mine is not an unusual position if one surveys the state of freelance journalists over the recent past.

So, when less than a couple hours ago, I noticed a suspiciously familiar news story that is now being prominently featured in major profitable news outlets that I suspected was more than a coincidence, I did some cursory research.

Google News is at the moment featuring a story by the London Mail titled: “Did Cambodia’s first lady mock Obama with a ‘greeting that’s meant for servants?’” By “Lydia Warren and Daily Mail Reporter” posted at 13:48 EST, 22 November 2012

“Bun Rany, Cambodia’s first lady, gives President Obama a “sampeah” greeting at a tilt usually reserved for servants.” (Investor’s Business Daily caption without attribution as an AP photo)

The story prominently featured a picture of Hun Sen’s wife and President Obama exchanging a greeting with traditional Asian clasped hands. The Photo caption of the AP picture read: “Coded slight? First Lady Rany greeted the president with a pressed-hands greeting typically used only with servants.” The text of their story was clearly compiled to give analysis, significance and context of the photo.

The story read: “Just before dinner, all appeared to be well as Sen formally introduced his wife, Cambodia’s First Lady Bun Rany, to the president. Rany greeted Obama with the traditional ‘sampeah’ greeting — a pressed-hands gesture that shows respect for a person. Where a person’s hands are placed and how deeply they bow during the gesture indicates their level of respect for the person they are greeting.

Rany placed her hands at chest level and tilted the upper half of her body slightly, leading the editorial board at Investor’s Business Daily to believe that she was showing disrespect to the president.

”First lady Bun Rany greeted Obama with a traditional “sampeah” pressed-hands greeting reserved for servants, a little dig that was probably lost on him but not to Asians,’ the editorial board wrote.

The Daily mail was practicing a common, growing, and acceptable tactic of today’s major media—picking up stories published elsewhere and tweaking them , presenting them as much as is ethically acceptable as their own. But they fully cited the source of their story to Investors Business News and the photograph to the AP, even though the entire story was essentially lifted from another publication, they played within the rules of proper citation and accreditation.

Then a few hours ago another story, by Asian News International (ANI) was prominently featured on Yahoo News with a story posted “12 minutes ago titled: “Did Cambodia’s First Lady mock Obama with greeting typically ‘meant for servants’?

The Asian News International  based in Delhi, India, provides multimedia news to 50 bureaus in India and throughout  Asia., claiming to be ”South Asia’s leading Multimedia News Agency providing content for every information platform, including TV, Internet, broadband, newspapers and mobiles….including breaking news and features with regional perspectives, along with politics, business, health, technology, travel and entertainment content. The New Delhi head office is staffed by professionals round the clock 365 days a year.”

The story, datelined “Phnom Penh, Nov. 23 (ANI): US President Barack Obama’s historic first trip to Southeast Asia ended with a questionably disrespectful greeting Cambodia’s First Lady Bun Rany shared with him.” The story continued quoting the Daily Mail: “According to the Daily Mail, Obama met Prime Minister Hun Sen that White House officials described as tense…Just before dinner, Sen formally introduced his wife, Cambodia’s First Lady Bun Rany, to the president. Rany greeted Obama with the traditional ‘sampeah’ greeting, a pressed-hands gesture that signifies respect for a person.  Where a person’s hands are placed and how deeply they bow during the gesture indicates their level of respect for the person they are greeting, the report said. Rany placed her hands at chest level and tilted the upper half of her body slightly, leading the editorial board at Investor’s Business Daily to believe that she was showing disrespect to the president, the report added. “First lady Bun Rany greeted Obama with a traditional “sampeah” pressed-hands greeting reserved for servants, a little dig that was probably lost on him but not to Asians,’ the editorial board wrote. A sampeah at mouth level is reserved for bosses, elders or higher-ranking people. For parents, grandparents or teachers, a sampeah is typically raised to nose level and when saluting the king or monks, the sampeah is raised to eyebrow level, the report said. According to Investor’s Business Daily, however, Rany’s sampeah was only ‘fit for a servant’. (ANI)”

So here were the two largest News aggregators, Yahoo and Google, who make billions of dollars in profit, promoting a story by two highly profitable media conglomerates, the Daily Mail and the Asian News International, written up on Tuesday November 22. Both of these news media conglomerates picked up the story that was cited as originating with a for profit business that publishes, among offering other investment and financial services, the Investor’s Business Daily. But both the Daily Mail and ANI, along with Google and Yahoo, played within the acceptable rules of ethics, fully citing albeit as an entirely single sourced article, Investor’s Business News.

But the conduct and apparently transparently egregious intentional ethical behavior of Investor’s Business News is entirely another matter. IBN is also another for profit, and decidedly right wing business and media outlet that has an openly very conservative editorial bias and also sells other business services.

The Daily Mail story was published on November 22. The ANI story was then published on November 23. Google and Yahoo catapulted the reader reach of both articles by featuring them on their news site that picks what it deems the most important stories from thousands of outlets worldwide on November 23rd.

So then I searched and found the Investor’s Business News story, which was categorized as an editorial; and dated as published on November 20 at “07:01 PM ET” It was titled “Obama’s Southeast Asia Trip All Style, No Substance” with the sub headline  “Investor’s Business Daily Editorial for November 20, 2012: Obama’s Southeast Asia Trip All Style, No Substance.”

The IBD editorial was a rather virulent right wing anti Obama piece under the category “Diplomacy. It began “So amid all the colorful and flirty photos from President Obama’s first tour of Southeast Asia, what did he actually accomplish? As usual, he served himself politically in what was largely a Potemkin mission abroad. It was obvious enough from the rube like gaffes that the president hasn’t been particularly interested or attentive to the affairs of Thailand, Burma or Cambodia as he made his first trip since his re-election. It was pretty much all style over substance.”

The entire story had not a single source, citation, or attribution which under rudimentary journalistic guidelines represents that its entire content originated with its own reporting of both facts and ideas presented.

Like the Daily Mail and ANI stories, the IBN story prominently featured that aforementioned AP photograph of the encounter between president Obama and Cambodian first lady madam Hun Sen, with the text and analysis written around the photo to explain its significance.

The IBN story began with a general denigration of Obama’s trip to Burma as gaffe ridden and counterproductive in a clearly partisan driven polemic. “In his tour of Burma, billed as an historic first visit since Burma’s 2007 move to democracy, it was clear he was in way over his head, even on small things” and followed this with “It didn’t help that he ignored the real heroes who helped push Burma toward a more open system — President and Mrs. Bush, as well as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell, seeming to take credit for it himself.”

This was followed by: “On his trip to Cambodia, a country he claimed didn’t deserve a visit due to its strongman government, first lady Bun Rany greeted Obama with a traditional “sampeah” pressed-hands greeting reserved for servants, a little dig that was probably lost on him but not to Asians.

While all three stories prominently featured and were written around large sized reproductions of the AP Photo of the controversial exchange of greetings between Mrs. Hun Sen and Obama, the Daily Mail and ANI carefully provided credit to the source of their information, Including the text, citing IBN, and the photo crediting the AP.

The Investor’s Business Daily did neither, offering no citation, quotes or attribution to the premise of the body of the article, and even left the photo uncredited.  Given that the AP photo was distributed with a watermark of their copyright, and, speaking as a former AP correspondent, requires full attribution on all it material which is all copyrighted.

Investor’s Business Daily sourced exactly no one in either their written text story and offered no credit to the owner and author of the photograph.

This is where I come in.

It didn’t take much of a cursory amateur sleuthing to determine that Investor’s Business Daily had, in fact plagiarized—stolen–virtually the entire substance of their story and analysis from me, on not just the significance of the photographic depiction, but directly plagiarized from my writings and analysis of that photograph, in addition to the wholesale lifting of my writings in their analysis of Burma, while twisting it entirely by intentionally taking out context that detracted from their politically motivated missive.

Their opinion being forwarded is not an issue of contention, but rather the process of how they obtained it , took credit for it, distorted it, and plagiarized it intentionally leaving its readers with the dishonest impression it was their own generated analysis.

There is not a more serious ethical violation in journalism than what the Investor’s Business Daily engaged in. If I had conducted myself in a remotely similar matter, I would have been summarily fired, with good cause, from the numerous credible news media organizations that have employed me during my 30 year career. And probably died from shame and embarrassment as a result.

This is how my very serious accusations, not made lightly or without due research diligence, evolved. And its origins are from my Facebook postings.

On November 19, some of you will remember, I posted the AP picture of the greetings between the Cambodian First lady and president Obama and suggested it was an intentional gesture of disrespect by virtue of the positioning of Madame Hun Sen’s clasped hands. I sourced the photo to AP, and offered my entirely original analysis (if reasonably debated in its accuracy in the thread that followed). My posting accompanying the photo read in its entirety: “Note how low Ms. Hun Sen’s clasped hands are. The higher the ‘wai’ is towards one’s own head is a specific sign of level of respect intended towards the recipient. This level of wai is used for those considered subordinate, younger, or of marginal importance. Obama’s briefing papers must have included instructions on using this traditional gesture of respect, but I suspect not given details of the nuances of usage. Here, he is being directly given a sign of disrespect, roughly the equivalent of a limp, short handshake. I suspect Madame Hun Sen may be reflecting conversations she overheard between her husband and his loyalists.”

All of my FB postings are posted for viewing to my “friends” list only, and intentionally not “public”. And this is for a reason. While I know it is far from foolproof, I choose my friends largely based on my impression of their ethics and quality of upholding ethical standards in general both personally and professionally, with those practicing the noble craft of journalism in particular mind.

My post resulted in a reasoned an substantive debate in the comments thread that followed. And the post was shared by two people. In taking a closer look at those who shared my post, within a few minutes I found that one of them was by a person who lists her employer as Investors Business Daily. On her friends list is one “Andrew Malcolm”, the author of the Investor’s Business Daily story of which this far too long missive objects to and focuses on. Mr. Malcolm’s biography on the IBN website reads in full: “A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm joined Investor’s Business Daily October 2011. He formerly served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four.”

On another post I made on November 19 which was accompanied by a photo of president Obama kissing Aung San Suu Kyi awkwardly on the cheek, the ensuing thread of again reasoned by debated comments which included some which I viewed as unnecessarily partisan, and I added my two cents on my views: “Let’s not impose partisanship where it doesn’t need to exist. The fact is that during Clinton’s tenure, it was primarily republicans who carried the banner of the Burmese opposition. They included John McCain, Mitch McConnell, and Dana Rohrabacher. Those three, and others, continued to support those fighting for human and political rights in SE Asia from the 1980’s through now, and deserve due credit, through both republican and democratic administrations. Clinton’s SE Asia policy while in power kowtowed to his domestic political agenda, and George Bush didn’t really give a damn about much of anything outside the U.S., little less Asia unless it fit his ideological doctrines. Due credit for Burma and other obscure countries, with no hometown political electoral capital, deservedly belong to many republicans who did the right thing regardless of the fact it meant absolutely nothing to their home constituency. Dana Rohrabacher stands out among them. Some view him as a nutcase, but to Cambodians and Burmese who not long ago had few friends, he and others were lone voices demanding for Burma and Cambodia and elsewhere… The principles of freedom which is about the only thing that distinguishes the U.S. outside its borders is truly a heartfelt sentiment that thank god has no domestic internecine borders in Washington.”

That exact reference, down to those exact names of U.S republican politicians, and the republican role in supporting Burmese dissident voices, was reprinted virtually verbatim in the IBN article—with no attribution or citation. As was exactly the same case as the virtually verbatim republishing of my analysis of the Obama-Mrs. Hun Sen exchange of traditional Asian greetings and the analysis of nuances of the meanings of how they were exchanged—again with not attribution, clearly intentionally giving the impression that both the words and ideas were original to Investor’s Business Daily. The Investor’s Business Daily editorial quote, “It didn’t help that he ignored the real heroes who helped push Burma toward a more open system — President and Mrs. Bush, as well as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Sens. John McCain and Mitch McConnell, seeming to take credit for it himself” would prompt far more than red flags from any sophomore student of journalist ethics. In fact, for the publications I work for it would get me fired for plagiarism

The same Investor’s Business Daily FB friend of mine shared and commented on both these posts of mine of November 19th and the IBD article was written the following day, authored by her colleague at IBD who is listed as a friend on her FB page. I do not believe that my FB friend engaged in any unethical behavior herself. I know her as a reputable, serious and ethical journalist. I am considerably less convinced the same is true of the author of the IBN article, who, as the author, bears sole and full responsibility for any violations of journalistic standards and ethics.

Why am I seemingly making a big deal out of what many might view as a small issue. Because it isn’t a minor transgression. It is the most serious of unacceptable conduct against the integrity of the profession of journalism, and it is alarmingly growing in frequency in the age of online so called reporting. It is an act of intentional deception of the readers, and violates the most important and fundamental premise to that it at the heart of reputable journalism. There is a reason why journalists rank in public opinion polls on integrity and trustworthiness alongside politicians, used car salesmen, and lawyers.

On a more personal note, I, along with thousands of other journalists who have devoted our lives to defending, promoting and practicing what I consider a profession vital to any free society. And I am tired of having my reputation soiled by association. And I am tired of being largely helpless to effectively object. Not to mention this is how I make a living and I don’t like, nor can I afford having my work stolen. And like it even less when it is done by those who would never put up with such conduct directed towards them. I have little patience for hypocrisy or  unethical behavior. Full stop. And since I write for a living, tonight I am writing about this because I can and because I am correct.

At the bottom of the page where Investor’s Business Daily published this article which should result in the author and his editor, if he even has one, is the IBD own warning to anyone who would attempt to conduct themselves towards them in exactly the manner they went to significant acrobatics and deception to perpetrate on its readers and the integrity of the profession of journalism:

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY
Notice: Information contained herein is not and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities. The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. The information and content are subject to change without notice. You may use IBD’s Services and Subscriber-Only features solely for personal, non-commercial use. Removal or alteration of any trademark, copyright or other notices will result in legal action taken to protect our rights. You may not distribute IBD’s Services or Subscriber-Only features to others, whether or not for payment or other consideration, and you may not modify, copy, frame, reproduce, sell, publish, transmit, display or otherwise use or revise any portion of IBD’s Services or Subscriber-Only features. For information regarding use of IBD’s Services for any purpose, please see our Terms and Conditions of Use. © 2000-2012 Investor’s Business Daily, Inc. All rights reserved. Investor’s Business Daily, IBD, CAN SLIM and corresponding logos are registered trademarks of Investor’s Business Daily, Inc Copyright and Trademark Notice | Privacy Statement

The merriem-webster dictionary says the definition of plagiarism is “transitive verb: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own : use (another’s production) without crediting the source  and for the “intransitive verb: “to commit literary theft : present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”

Dictionary.reference.com defines plagiarism as: pla·gia·rism [pley-juh-riz-uhm, -jee-uh-riz-]

noun

1.an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author: It is said that he plagiarized Thoreau’s plagiarism of a line written by Montaigne. Synonyms: appropriation, infringement, piracy, counterfeiting; theft, borrowing, cribbing, passing off.

2.a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation: “These two manuscripts are clearly plagiarisms,” the editor said, tossing them angrily on the floor.

It quotes the “Word Origin & History” as “plagiarism: 1621, from L. plagiarius “kidnapper, seducer, plunderer,” used in the sense of “literary thief” by Martial, from plagium “kidnapping,” from plaga “snare, net,” from PIE base *p(e)lag- “flat, spread out.” Plagiary is attested from 1597. “

The American Heritage Cultural Dictionary plagiarism definition is “Literary theft. Plagiarism occurs when a writer duplicates another writer’s language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own. Copyright laws protect writers’ words as their legal property. To avoid the charge of plagiarism, writers take care to credit those from whom they borrow and quote.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines plagiarism as: “the act of taking the writings of another person and passing them off as one’s own. The fraudulence is closely related to forgery and piracy-practices generally in violation of copyright laws.”

Wikipedia sums it up quite well: “Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the “wrongful appropriation,” “close imitation,” or “purloining and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions,” and the representation of them as one’s own original work, but the notion remains problematic with nebulous boundaries. The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, particularly with the Romantic movement, while in the previous centuries authors and artists were encouraged to “copy the masters as closely as possible” and avoid “unnecessary invention.” And continued with “The 18th century new morals have been institutionalized and enforced prominently in the sectors of academia and journalism, where plagiarism is now considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics, subject to sanctions like expulsion and other severe career damage. Not so in the arts, which not only have resisted in their long-established tradition of copying as a fundamental practice of the creative process, but with the boom of the modernist and postmodern movements in the 20th century, this practice has been heightened as the central and representative artistic device. Plagiarism remains tolerated by 21st century artists.

Plagiarism is not a crime per se but is disapproved more on the grounds of moral offence, and cases of plagiarism can involve liability for copyright infringement.”

It seems quite evident that the Investor’s Business Daily firs quite seamlessly as a poster child of these characterizations based on their behavior.

I welcome any response, correction, or comments. And I damn well hope that Investor’s Business Daily doesn’t make the mistake of either ignoring or attempting to mitigate, downplay, or justify what appears to be, what seems to me, a rather irrefutable, firmly documented, convincingly researched, and carefully worded argument that I document above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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