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Plagiarismpalooza

A little alt-weekly in Houston has apparently been on something of a plagiarism binge. Jody Rosen in Slate:

Since 2005, the [Montgomery County, Texas] Bulletin has published dozens of stories under Williams’ byline that appear to be copied, whole or in part, from other periodicals. Compare the Bulletin’s Nov. 4, 2005, Franz Ferdinand piece and this NME review, published five weeks prior; the Bulletin’s Steely Dan piece (July 14, 2006) and this article from the Web site All About Jazz (July 4, 2006); the Bulletin’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club feature (June 14, 2007) and an earlier Boston Globe piece (May 25, 2007); the Bulletin’s McKay Brothers article (Nov. 11, 2006) and this Dallas Observer item (Oct. 19, 2006); and the Bulletin’s “God and Country: More Popular Artists Are Now Singing a Spiritual Tune” (Sept. 20, 2007) and the Billie Joe Shaver concert review by Washington Post pop critic J. Freedom du Lac (Sept. 13, 2007). The Eagles piece published in the Bulletin on Dec. 13, 2007 is a nearly word-for-word recapitulation of David Fricke’s Rolling Stone review (Nov. 1, 2007). Mark Williams sought inspiration from USA Today for his features on Paul Simon (USA Today version; Bulletin version) and Tom Petty (USA Today version; Bulletin version). The Evanston, Ill.-based blog Pop Matters is the apparent source of articles on Dwight Yoakam (Pop Matters version; Bulletin version) and Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs (Pop Matters version; Bulletin version). And then there’s “Crazy About ‘Crazy’ ” (March 2, 2007), Williams’ deconstruction of the monster 2006 pop hit by Gnarls Barkley—an article that bears a striking resemblance to “Crazy for ‘Crazy’,” published six months earlier in Slate.

And so on. Uncovering these sources is a matter of choosing the right phrases to dump into Google, not a difficult feat for anyone moderately attuned to writerly rhythms. Often, the keywords leap right out at you. The Willie Nelson appreciation currently headlining the Bulletin’s Web site begins: “Willie Nelson is so impeccably grizzled that he has moved into a realm to which the phrase ‘elder statesman’ scarcely begins to do justice”—a sentence with a twang more British than Texan, probably because it was first published in the U.K. Guardian.

The publisher’s response, apparently, was: “I’ll look into it.”

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