Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Plagiarized "Business Column" Carries Local CPA's By-line

Venice CPA Mark W. Paolillo’s by-line is affixed to a story headlined “Cut taxes and make more money” on page 6 of today’s Venice Gondolier. Everything about the article, from the name of the accountant at the top to the name of the firm – Hough & Co. -- at the bottom, is calculated to deceive readers into thinking Paolillo himself – or at least his firm’s public relations staffer -- produced a timely news item for the benefit of his community.

Not so. Paolillo the "Business Columnist” plagiarized. The story he presents as his own appears word for word at half a dozen other Web sites and has been circulating on the Internet since at least 2003. Paolillo is not the first to slap his by-line on it, but that can’t possibly be the ethical argument a trusted financial adviser would make when telling himself it's OK to take the words someone else wrote and publish them as his own work.*

Here is just a sampling of the easily accessible Web sites using the same copy -- and none of them indicate that Paolillo wrote it, as he claims in the today's newspaper:

1. Back in 2003, the Cherry Hill, N.J. firm of Alloy, Silverstein, Shapiro, Adams, Mulford, Cicalese, Wilson and Co. posted the identical article.

2. Then in 2007, a firm run by David Compton published it in the Meridian (Miss.) Star newspaper.

3. Just last year, in 2009, McNair & Assoc. P.A. of Longwood, Fla., claimed the column for its own.

4. And, apparently dated today, Jan. 20, the Ashland, Va., firm of Marshall D. Campbell, CPA posted the identical item on its Web site.

Actually, this has happened at Paolillo's firm before.

About a year ago, Paolillo's boss, Hough Himself plagiarized by purchasing a ready-made column -- much like a student might buy a college essay -- and published it as his own.

Surely Gondolier editors don't condone students buying pre-written essays and turning them in for a grade. So why should editors enable this grown-up firm of professionals attempting exactly the same thing?

We asked it before and we'll ask it again: When a CPA cheats journalism, what's he going to do with my money?

*So, what do busy bean counters do when they want a newsy little piece in the local paper? They buy an ad. If the publisher's such a good friend that he'll run shop-worn drek for free, maybe he'll offer a break on space rates. At least the item will run with a little flag at the top that says "ADVERTISEMENT." And readers will have no expectation that the bean counters actually wrote it -- that's what they pay ad agencies for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ruppel Steals Copy from the NYT -- or is it AARP? -- a Potpourri of Plagiarism

Mary Kay "I am Meticulous About Naming Sources" Ruppel kicks off Old Word Wolf's belated New Year's edition with a massive dose of plagiarism.

Her plagiarism qualifies as massive because the amount of verbiage she copies forms almost half of her column in this week's Venice Gondolier. Ruppel's cut-and-paste fest seems to have come mainly -- but not wholly -- from the New York Times Dec. 23, 2009 edition where her copy first appears under Reed Abelson's byline. Abelson's fine reporting also serves as Ruppel's "punch line," albeit with a deceptive edit, as we shall demonstrate.

Mary Kay Ruppel presents as her own words: The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center has earned a reputation as a place where doctors will go to virtually any length and expense to save a patient’s life.

Compare her copy to Reed Abelson’s New York Times story lede: The Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A. Medical Center, one of the nation’s most highly regarded academic hospitals, has earned a reputation as a place where doctors will go to virtually any length and expense to save a patient’s life.

Mary Kay Ruppel's byline announces she wrote: The Dartmouth End of Life Analysis says Medicare pays about $50,000 during a patient’s last six months of care by UCLA.
Reed Abelson, in the NYT: According to Dartmouth, Medicare pays about $50,000 during a patient’s last six months of care by U.C.L.A.

Mary Kay reports to readers: Its doctors say that unless the distinction can be clearly drawn between excellence and excess in medical care, efforts to cut wasteful spending could be "little more than blunt rationing."
Reed Abelson reported it first, but with a difference: he does not provide a direct quote for his speaker -- Mary Kay adds that, for emphasis, we assume: That prospect worried Dr. Rosenthal and his U.C.L. A. colleagues, who say that unless the distinction can be clearly drawn between excellence and excess in medical care, efforts to cut wasteful spending could be little more than blunt rationing.

Mary Kay Ruppel reports as if she read the document herself: UCLA and five other California medical centers recently published their own research results with a striking conclusion: The hospitals that spend the most do save the most lives.

AARP Bulletin also uses Abelson's story, fully attributed and clearly displaying its permission. But at this p0int, AARP editors condense and edit the original to: “Indeed, U.C.L.A. and five other big California medical centers recently published their own results with the striking conclusion: for heart failure patients, the hospitals that spend the most seem to save the most lives.

Ruppel apparently like most of AARP's version, but omits the inconvenient qualifer, the part about heart patients.

So, OWW is left with one question for Ruppel: "Which publication -- NYT or AARP Bulletin -- is your source for this week's plagiarism?"

There's More: Her Source Changes but She's Still Plagiarising ...

In the same column, Mary Kay’s nugget: The current attempt by today’s White House administration to impose more big government on the American people by way of the “single payer option” for health care is as unconstitutional as gun confiscation or the elimination of free speech. . . .

. . . is the Dec. 24, 2009 lede at “News With Views dot com,” a blog run by right-wingnut Phil Hart.

Ruppel pauses her plagiarism long enough to insert a rant aimed at the Florida attorney general, but quickly returns to her source.

Compare Ruppel: The American people are nearly 100-percent illiterate when it comes to constitutional taxation, with Hart: The American people are nearly 100-percent illiterate, at all levels, when it comes to constitutional taxation.

And, for good measure, one more. Ruppel: In fact, most attorneys have never themselves really studied “Constitutional Taxation 101," and Hart: ... first review Constitutional Taxation 101, a course that no lawyer ever took...

Ruppel announces she will forevermore call health care legislation the "Kill Bill," a hip-hop she presents as her own witticism but which is just more of the divisive, debate-stopping nastiness that she copies from the blogosphere. OWW: "Ruppel's Rant," a potpourri of plagiarism.

And Your Name is Spelled ... ?
Pity Dr. Antelman. First they ignore his science. And now a tired reporter misspells his name. It's Seymour, not Semour. And not one "copy editor" questioned the lede or the cutline.