Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lame Excuses at the Alex City Outlook

As promised in emails from publisher Tim Reeves and editor Kevin Taylor, the Alexander City (AL) Outlook published an apology, of sorts, for the Bruce Meyers column noted here. The Sunday column, written by sports editor Matt Dischinger, opens with,
Dozens of readers responded to the mistakes made in the commentary section of Friday's sports page.

Some found significant mistakes on the part of a guest columnist Bruce Meyers, with the most noteworthy one being a section of the column that was inadvertently plagiarized from a column by Pat Forde appearing on The mistakes were not caught by The Outlook's editorial staff, and we apologize for the mistake on our part and Bruce's part. It was certainly not intentional.

We appreciate the many responses from readers calling attention the problems with Friday's column. Those mistakes have been addressed with the author. The Outlook staff will always try to minimize mistakes when they are found in any guest column.
That's it. The piece also contains several column-inches of scolding, but the scolding is directed at readers who complained about the content of Meyers' column, rather than at Meyers himself for blatantly (and really stupidly) plagiarizing one of the most widely-read national columns on Bobby Petrino from last week.

For whatever it's worth, I have no problem with Bruce Meyers writing whatever opinions he wants to write, and no problem with the AC Outlook publishing them--no matter how dumb, irrelevant, or badly-written those opinions happen to be. As a commenter to my previous post noted, it's not worth getting worked up over an unknown columnist for a paper with a miniscule readership.

But I do have a problem when Meyers or anybody else goes out and steals somebody else's words and claims them as his own. I have a big problem when his section editor blithely writes off outright plagiarism as "a mistake," and the paper's editor and publisher sign off on a lame whitewash.

What Meyers did Friday is not "a mistake," Mr. Reeves. It's not "inadvertent," Mr. Taylor.

It's plagiarism. It's theft. And you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for excusing it.

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