Over in the Venice Gondolier, real estate agent Gae Stewart's photo and byline anchor her business page column. Neither the editors nor Stewart tells readers her article about a proprietary software product, Listingbook, is an ad. Instead, readers are invited to assume Stewart has written the article. She puts her name and face to words she presents as her own work.
Now deep into the muck of plagiarism, Stewart fails to acknowledge in her publicist-produced piece that she did not interview the people she quotes. She does not give sources for the claims she makes. She does not attribute the information, not even to the software firm that is the most likley source for her prefabricated words. She has become a willing shill on someone else's street corner.
This particular article has been making the rounds since August. The firm has been selling its product since 1999, according to 2007 promotional literature written by Andy Baron for a Fort Myers agency. It is fair for readers to suspect a deeply rooted conflict of interest: The more people buy the product, the better off Stewart will be. She has not disclosed if that benefit is because she owns stock, is a principal in the Listingbook firm, or if it helps her sell more houses. Journalism tells readers things like this. Advertisements don't.
Stewart is credited at the end of "her article" with being president of the Venice Area Board of Realtors. At the end of this blog post, she's credited with being Sun Coast Media Group's newest plagiarist.