A couple of weeks ago while leafing through the tatty tabloid of the local TOI I actually came across an article that interested me. It was not about violence, sex or murder, that being the usual fare. It was about bakeries in Pune. Having tracked them for a while I wondered if there was anything new the journalist had to report. Evidently not. Most of the article had been lifted verbatim from my blog posts about Kayani Bakery and German Bakery. Interspersed with her own paragraphs it became something which made no sense whatsoever.
This had to be a joke. The very same article had been plagiarised by a TOI reporter two years ago AND by a magazine from Delhi a couple of months before that!
As is my usual wont I called the editor to inform him of his staffer’s lack of creativity . After a couple of calls I got through to him and he seemed genuinely surprised and said he would investigate it. A day later I received a call from his assistant who promised to take some action. That action turned out to be instigating another call…from the journalist herself. She introduced herself as ” Ho!” ( Well she said it. I didn’t.) Actually her name is Poonam Manuja. Having been through the same business before I was not about to be fobbed off by a verbal attack by some “writer” who had recently discovered the cut and paste joys of the internet. I gently put the phone back on the hook.
After several more calls, which seemed to have been made to guage my legal intentions, the TOI finally printed a miniscule apology for inadvertantly “quoting” me without credit.
It gave me no joy. They had mispelt my name to begin with and the typeface was so small as to be unreadable. To be fair the assistant also said that the management had served the girl an internal memo, which, I believe, means ‘get ready to pack your bags”. Whether they will actually did this I am interested to find out.
As mentioned in the post ” Flattery and Plagiarism” on my blog The Cook’s Cottage , if editors cannot vouch for the ethical standards of their reporters they should have a policing system that does not allow such material to get through. Keep a permanent employee to check if their material is original. Most “content providers” do this. Scan the article through Google and it will bring up any sentences which have been written before. No editor worth her/his salt should have to plead ignorance today. He is responsible for what goes into his publication.
However many of them are so arrogant as to resent being told anything. Having got away for years with the most outrageous examples of copying, several think they can continue to do so. I recall one editor who actually copied, word for word, an American song writers lyrics and published it as a collection of his own poems. This was back in the days when information of any kind rarely crossed borders, let alone continents. So he got away with it.
It is mighty stupid to think that they can get away with it day after day in this age of the internet. There are people who actually use the internet to write and communicate – their own ideas and in their own style.