Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Common Source, Common Plagiarist

I don't know who Barden Winstead of Rocky Mount, N.C., or Chris Barone of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, are, but they both write a lot like Scott Wadsworth of Port Charlotte. Word-for-word alike, in fact.

Wadsworth is a financial consultant in the Port Charlotte office of A.G. Edwards. He's too busy to write his own financial advice column. The trusted advisor, however, is not too busy to use a column someone else wrote and tell Charlotte Sun editors to put his by-line and photograph on it. At least the guy in North Carolina had the class to attribute his column to "A.G. Edwards." Wadsworth didn't bother with this nice detail. And, for his hubris, he loses all credibility. I mean, if one steals copy ...

The fine print at the end of Wadsworth's column doesn't say "this column was originally written by so and so," or "this column originally appeared in such and such." It urges readers to contact Wadsworth by phone or mail -- for honest advice, one presumes.

At the very least, alert newspaper editors should have but a big black box around the copy and clearly labled it "advertisement."


  1. What's especially egregious about this is that all management is aware that these are not original columns and has been for more than a year.

  2. Thanks for exposing this man's level of integrity. There are elderly ladies out here who might have trusted him with their money.

  3. Dear Old Word Wolf, you spelled adviser wrong. According to the AP Stylebook, adviser is spelled with an "er" and not an "or." You may want to check that out.
    Young Word Wolf

  4. Hey, YWW-- You are right, of course. I've been deeply embedded in editing a dissertation using Chicago Style and Webster's New World, so things get blended a bit when I write fast. Thanks for the good eyes, good eding. Hope you keep reading.

  5. Here is a secret about AG Edwards advisors-they all publish the same piece in their local paper. It's a way to advertise and provide filler from someone not on the paper's payroll.

  6. It's no secret. As I said in the post, the classy thing to do -- the ethical thing to do -- in acknowledge somewhere in the article or at the end note that it's a canned production.