Hey Fuckhead, Admit it: You Got Caught
While uninspired e-mags falter and lie, and become exposed, readers discover who the real journalists are: my unpaid pals

I would do anything to be a journalist.

How cool to be able to sleep in, sit on my ass, pick up the phone occasionally and gather info from unsuspecting freelance reporters. I think I could surf the web and quickly rewrite stories I found interesting, not forgetting to put my name on it, and only naming the real writers after they bitch like sissies and attract unseemly attention in places like, oh, The New York Times.

But that isn't journalism, that's plagiarism... or is it?

According to the Editor of BusinessWeek Online, this:

"He's been known to dress up in a seven-foot green foam suit -- his site logo is a big green exclamation point -- to attract attention." - BusinessWeek, 8/28/01

is not plagiarizing this:

"He's been known to wear a seven-foot-tall foam suit molded after Crikey's logo, a screaming exclamation mark." - Ken Layne, 8/14/01

In fact, Bob Arnold would not only deny the seemingly perfect examples of plagiarism, but he'll call you an asshole for even bringing it up.

My friend Ken Layne is a freelance media columnist, so is my friend Matt Welch.

Because they fucking rock at what they do, when lost writers need help on a story, occasionally they will call up one of my pals. In this sad case, the BusinessWeek Online journalist called them both.

The topic was "content sites" that could survive - and thrive - now that it takes more than a .com behind your name to get funding.

Welch took the call and gave BusinessWeek Online's Jane Black good examples of profitable sites, as well as some leads.

One of those sites was Crikey in Australia. Welch told Black that Layne had recently written a lengthy and detailed piece on Crikey founder, tabloid journalist Stephen Mayne, for his column in the Online Journalism Review.

Black enthusiastically told Welch that she reads OJR "all the time."

And then something overcame her and she proceeded to read Ken's Layne's piece and rewrite chunks of it like a JV highschool linebacker the night before his midterm was due. Except she wasn't handing it into a class in highschool.

If she had done that, she might have been expelled.

At BusinessWeek Online, she got paid.

For that's where she handed it in.

Too bad for Black, because but for the exception of our friends who are ruling the world on the stage and screen, most of the friends that Ken and Matt have are ridiculously talented journalists who read Everything, all the time.

Even crap like BusinessWeek Online.

And, of course, they told Ken, and Ken wrote BW, and BW wrote him back. Even though Arnold is somehow denying that, too.

Now, any reasonable person could easily recognize that what Black did was more than simple plagiarism, but an obvious disinterest in her assignment, and a cry-for-help that this reporting-business is no longer of interest to her. And most professionals (and editors) seriously interested in the standards of journalism - or What's Right - would have acknowledged the wrong and rectified it immediately.

But Black's boss chose, instead, to follow his writer's unfortunate lead and attempt to dazzle us with even more dumbfuckery.

Not only does he write a miserable rebuttal where he chastises Layne for not contacting anyone at BW (untrue), admits "disappointment" in Layne for writing a column about the jackmove (uh, Layne is a media columnist), and concludes with a gentlemanly request to have his response linked in a way that readers of Layne's complaint can read Arnold's.

In the same breath, Arnold informs us that even though his writer didn't do anything wrong, Ken's name (and now, hyperlink) will be included in the story in a somewhat reluctant attribution in the glorious Editor's Note.

The one at the very bottom of the page!


Jane Black rewrote Ken Layne.

It's an online entity. Take it the fuck down or give Layne a co-byline.

And pay him.

Is plagiarism only plagiarism, Bobby, when somebody else does it?

If you're giving props to Ken Layne, for his "work," why aren't you paying him?

That's why they call it work.

Unlike idiots like me, Ken Layne gets paid to report on tiny Australian web sites that you never heard of. He went to Australia. In Australia he met with and interviewed Stephen Mayne. Then he wrote the article that your writer rewrote. How do you figure that Ken doesn't get paid off that?

Do tell.

I'm dying to hear more from a man who complains to an opinion columnist that he wasn't allowed to rebut before the column has been written.

"if you intend to criticize BusinessWeek Online, or a reporter who in our experience is quite conscientious, we would like a chance to comment before the fact."

Are you kidding me?

The problem here is credibility, bro. You and yours are being called-out on one of the most serious accusations in journalism. And you come off as not apologetic in how you acknowledge our man Layne, but chose to react in an offensive manner awkwardly rooted in defensiveness!

Are you implying that Layne would have more reasons to criticize your thing and your conscientious reporter in the future? And when did we start writing opinion columns like the one you're talking about?

Is everything okay over there at BusinessWeek Online?

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. And there I had the good fortune to read the opinion columns of a Mr. Mike Royko. And a lot of the time he said that the mayor of the city was a fat, fucking liar.

Now, he didn't use those exact words, because Mike Royko had class.

But when he exposed the fakers and liars and thieves in Chicago, he didn't wait to hear whatever bumbling bullshit they were going to spew his way.

He was an opinion writer. A commentator. A journalist. A professional.

Just like the guy who's shit you swiped.

So pay up, fat boy, and hand over some of those jobs of yours to me and my friends so you won't have to steal any more.

I'll take yours.

Tony Pierce

dot com