Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gondo "Columnist" Pays for His Material

Back in high school, busy students logged onto www. free-essays dot com to download five or ten pages analyzing theme, conflict and imagery in The Scarlet Letter or "A Rose for Emily." When they got to college, those same busy, busy students hooked up with www. college-papers dot com. For eight or ten dollars a page, they could put their own names on “nonplagiarized essays,” complete with footnotes and bibliographies on such topics as “Comparative Motifs in The Pearl Poet and Sir Gawain,” or “Microeconomic Factors Influencing the Effectiveness of NAFTA,” and “The Psycho-Social Impacts of Gay Adoption.” Now, thrust into the real world of work, what’s a busy, busy high-school-valedictorian-college-grad-cum-laude now a very busy, busy CPA to do when he needs a nicely written newspaper column?

An Oak Harbor, Wash., firm, Mostad and Christensen Inc., comes to the rescue! For a tad less than $500 a year, the nice folks there e-mail a monthly assortment of tax and financial articles, edited to about 300 words and suitable for “publishing in local newspapers or community publications under your firm’s name,” according to the company’s Web-sales site.

And, my goodness! How well this system serves all involved – as long as you don’t count the reader – is evident right here in today's Gondolier, business page, front and center. D. Grady Hough Jr., who earns his living as a CPA in Venice gets “business columnist” status to publish the 300 words he bought last month from Mostad and Christensen. His purchase price includes the privilege of saying the essay is his own work, even though it isn’t.

Apart from the bleak ethics of lying about whether you wrote something – called plagiarism except when semi-winked at by contractual arrangements between consenting adults – this article requires the newspaper’s entire staff of writers, editors, and publishers turn a blind eye to the deception it works on their community of readers. Most newspapers, when running this sort of drek, put a box around it and display the words “paid advertisement” in a place easily discerned by readers who like their business news gathered and presented by trained journalists who make at least a pretense of objectivity.

As for the CPA: He’s in a field that requires a high level of trust. Old Word Wolf can’t trust him to admit where he got his “news” or acknowledge that he didn’t research it, write it, or check its accuracy. And we're supposed to trust him with our taxes?

On a jollier note ...

Cutline: Trees bring season joy

So that's why the holiday is happy!


  1. I guess this is the type of business news to expect from the Sun since the business writer was a victim of layoffs.

  2. I'd like to advise the comrades at the Gondolier that using handouts from big brother is not very, in possible Sarah Palin language, "first ammendmenty, freedom of speechin' kinda journalism."
    I don't mind that they are only in it for the money. I do mind they say they are journalists running newspapers.They are not.

  3. This is consistent with the Gondo (and SCMG in general) philosophy of "slap it together as quickly as possible." Editors don't edit, writers can't write. Nothing new here but we must continue to expose what they're doing.

  4. I just "googled" the man's headline and a couple of key-word phrases. I found two other newspapers that have used the same story. So the CPA didn't even get exclusivity for his 500 bucks. Not only is he untrustworthy (didn't acknowledge his source), but it seems he may not be all that bright -- all that money for not much.

  5. I-75 Reader. Selling to many is the marketing plan.

    Hire a freelance writer for $200 to write four 300-word columns a month. Sell the column around the country to 100, 300 or 800 CPAs at 500 a year and clear the difference. If a writer tried to send the column to the paper for publication and charge the paper $25 each they would say no. But the paper gets it for free; the CPA gets free ad exposure. It's a WIN-WIN-LOSE. The winners are the paper and CPA. The loser the reader and journalistic integrity.

    Newspapers lose in the long run because people don't buy their paper and then advertisers don't advertise in it, but newspaper owners don't agree with this theory.

  6. Luckily, real newspapers know better than to print these types of columns without labeling them as advertising. But this is the Sun, where even if told someone isn't writing his own material, they just run it anyway.