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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Explore New England blogger steals text from Seven Days

Anybody know Matt Mahoney? His bio on the Explore New England Vermont blog says he's a Burlington resident who works as a banker. Well, he's also a plagairist.

I was just reading through some of the sites on my blogroll, and clicked on his. His latest post, from March 9, is about the Peking Acrobats show at the Flynn:

Peking Acrobats

France has its mimes, and Italy its Harlequin shows, but China's pedestrian art relies more on muscles than make-up. Its 2000-year-old street-performance tradition is rooted in acrobatics, a genre woven throughout the country's art and culture. This week, the Peking Acrobats return to Burlington's Flynn Theatre with a theatrical showcase of wire walking, trick cycling and precision gymnastics. Dressed in elaborate costumes, the elite co-ed touring troupe stretches the limits of physical possibility, with T'ai Chi-style control. See bodies balance in complicated symmetrical formations, perch perilously on a ceiling-high stack of chairs, flourish fans, or simultaneously spin ceramic plates on thin bamboo rods. A live orchestra featuring traditional Chinese instruments accompanies the jaw-dropping action.

Friday, March 10, Flynn MainStage, Burlington, 8 p.m. $20-32. Info, 863-5966.

Look familiar to anyone? If so, that's because this was a calendar spotlight in last week's Seven Days, written by our calendar writer, Meghan Dewald. Mahoney lifted it verbatim from our newspaper and didn't bother to cite us or link to us or mention that it's not his work.

I might not make such a big deal out of it, except that Mahoney is blogging for Explore New England, which, according to his blog, is "a joint adventure from The Boston Globe and Boston.com."

In other words, a correspondent for a news organization run by the Boston Globe just stole material from Seven Days and passed it off as his own. What the hell?

UPDATE: I told Meghan about this, and she took a look at the guy's blog. Turns out this is not the only spotlight he's stolen. On the main page alone, he's posted our spotlights for Moulin Rouge, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Men at Work tap dancing troupe, and the Bird's Eye viewing. So what else has he been stealing? This is outrageous!

March 15, 2006 at 09:40 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink


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Looks like the blog has been taken down.

Posted by: jessamyn | Mar 15, 2006 2:09:53 PM

If anyone would like to see what the site looked like when it was live, I grabbed the Google cache and archived it permanently (I think) at Ma.gnolia: http://ma.gnolia.com/wrogiyaz

Everything Cathy has said so far on the issue pretty much sums up my point of view, and I want to thank her for following up on this so quickly. Plagiarism was covered as an utterly wrong thing in my fifth grade English class the first time we had to write a "serious" book report, and reemphasized as wrong every year through junior high, high school, and college. We're dealing with pixels instead of ink, but the same set of rules still apply online. Even if this was an honest, albeit stupid, mistake on Matt Mahoney's part (maybe he was confused about basic rules of thumb for citing information in a blog post?), I have trouble understanding how Boston.com/The Boston Globe/The New York Times could be so lax as to waive editorial oversight over bloggers affiliated with their brands.

Posted by: Meghan Dewald | Mar 15, 2006 4:55:18 PM

With being able to see what the blog and some of the posts in question looked like prior to the posts being pulled off of it (and, yes -- I had come across this so-called VT blog previously, although I did not know much of its offerings were mostly bogus: i.e., lifted content without attribution), I am having a particularly hard time trying to imagine how this was just some innocent mistake of some sort.

It is just my opinion, but it is clear that someone else's work was being used as if it was his own, blogging on the cheap while being paid for it.

If true, then it may not just a case of plagiarism, but also one of outright theft: i.e., someone else's work being stolen and was sold.

The fact is that if he had credited the original author and source as is ethical to do, then most likely the Boston Globe/NYT would have continued paying or employing him and would have had to send 7Days a check instead of to him (as if), since it was a product of one of 7Days' writers, etc.

This is more than just being disrespectful to the original author or the publication the work was published in.

Someone stated he was a banker or something. Whoever is his employer is (other than the Boston Globe/NYT) might want to be (re)checking his resume more carefully now, if they have not already done so.

While I have no idea of what is indeed the case with the blogger in question, speaking in very general terms, this type of mistake looks more like a pattern and, one wonders if this is not behavior with a much longer history, maybe of the like sometimes used to get by in school and then later in college.

There are those whom are so used to producing in such a way, they never even give it a thought, let alone thinking of it as either being wrong or even potentially illegal.

Even when this may be the case, this is not the same as making an innocent or foolish mistake.

Of course what would be good is if the person could be heard from and, as Cathy already noted, she has tried to conatct them to get their side of things; so we wait.

Posted by: mwb | Mar 15, 2006 6:01:27 PM

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