Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Glendale News-Press' Columnist Conundrum

Glendale News Press
Glendale News Press

A few weeks ago, the Glendale News Press mysteriously announced that one of its key columnists, retired Glendale teacher Dan Kimber, had been caught plagiarizing someone else's work. As a result, Kimber -- who had written for the paper since 2003 -- would no longer appear in the newspaper.

Some readers felt that the decision was too harsh. But the paper later revealed that it had found several instances of plagiarism by Kimber:

A review of Kimber’s columns from Jan. 2, 2009 to Sept. 9, 2011 revealed approximately one-fifth contained plagiarized material. The amount taken in each instance varied, from a few sentences to nearly the entire column.

News-Press guidelines are explicit about properly identifying and citing our sources. Trust is the backbone of this paper’s reputation.

Editing safeguards have been put in place to help prevent this from occurring in the future.

Within the online archive, each of Kimber’s columns will contain a note stating that multiple instances of plagiarism have been found. In those columns where plagiarism has been discovered, a “For The Record” note specifying the details will be appended to the piece.
Compare Kimber's final column here with the column "Joe the Machinist," by Sam Pizzigati, here.

The Glendale News Press did the right thing; not only is the plagiarism embarrassing to the paper, but it was done by a former teacher who should have known better. Sheesh. Kimber's not taking it lying down, however, writing in the comments that he had been asked to keep quiet about the paper's shrinking freelance budget:
I've been refused a forum for a final farwell after ten years of writing a good column and a statement of contrition for having borrowed material of others without properly attributing the source.

Even the Community Forum is off limits because of two sentences I included about all freelancers being slashed in pay because of an acquisition of a Pasadena paper. All of us freelancers were told to keep our mouths shut about the paper's financial problems that were now being covered over by reducing the most vulnerable in its ranks.

I deserve what has been meted out to me and I will move on with my life, far the wiser for the experience. But I'll be damned if I'll be lectured about journalistic ethics by an editor who has censored not just me, but others who have tried to bring this to the public's attention.

Meanwhile, one columnist still at the paper is former LA Daily News editor Ron Kaye, who seems to spend a lot of column inches bashing Los Angeles. This week, his column once again focuses on how Los Angeles sucks, and in comparison, local suburbs have their acts together.

It's basically Kaye's way of writing a column for the Burbank and Glendale papers, but still ultimately writing about his pet topic: The mess that is Los Angeles. Here's an excerpt from this week's column, which compares the rosy future of the Rose Bowl to the terrible mismanagement of the Coliseum:

It isn’t just the difference in how publicly owned stadiums are run, and it isn’t just the difference between how Pasadena and Los Angeles are run.

You can see similar things in Burbank and Glendale and nearly all the suburbs that surround L.A.

Compare the paved streets and sidewalks in your community to the potholes and broken concrete in L.A.

Compare Old Pasadena, Brand Boulevard or beautiful downtown Burbank to the coldness of glass and steel skyscrapers with few pedestrians on Bunker Hill, or the mix of hip new lofts amid the squalor of Skid Row in downtown L.A., where billions of dollars of the public’s wealth have been spent to subsidize development without real planning.

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