Aug. 6, 2008
Slate's Jody Rosen published a phenomenal article yesterday about how, after realizing that a profile she wrote on Jimmy Buffett had been copied, she uncovered a small-market alternative weekly paper's egregious pattern of plagiarism. The whole thing is worth reading—it's narrative is exciting in a sort of Shattered Glass/fifth season of "The Wire" sort of way—but its concluding argument is particularly note-perfect:
As for the articles: more of the same ... In other words, with the exception of the local events listings, every single item in the June 3-July 10 Bulletin is suspicious. Indeed, I wonder: In purely statistical terms, do the articles in the Montgomery County Bulletin amount to the greatest plagiarism scandal in the annals of American journalism?
But perhaps the Bulletin is merely on-trend—or even ahead of its time. The Drudge Report, the Huffington Post, and Real Clear Politics have made names and money by sifting through RSS feeds; Tina Brown and Barry Diller are preparing the launch of their own news aggregator. Mike Ladyman and company may simply be bringing guerilla-style 21st-century content aggregation to 20th-century print media: publishing the Napster of newspapers.