Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sierra Madre Patch Attempts To Cover Up Justin Chapman's Plagiarism ... and Gets Caught Red Handed

You do know that almost nothing ever disappears on the internet, right? You just need to know where to look. Everybody knows that. Or at least so I thought.

But apparently not everyone does. Take those fellows who run the Sierra Madre Patch for instance. They don't know it. Or at least they don't know it yet. But I suspect this lacunae in their internet consciousness is about to be filled with an object lesson in the consequences of the imperfect cover-up. As taught by Professor Eric Maundry, Master of all things Internet.

Yesterday we posted an article called "Does Patch Plagiarize Itself?" In it we discussed the troubling revelation that one Patch freelance writer, Justin Chapman, had lifted without accreditation the writing of another Patch freelancer, Bill Peters. And in the offending passages it was done almost word for word.

Here is a recap of how we broke it down in yesterday's post:

On November 19 of 2010, Patch writer Bill Peters dutifully wrote up a status report on the Canyon Zone Advisory Committee. Entitled Joint Session to Look at One Size Fits All Canyon Zone Plan, it is a workmanlike effort which accurately details some of the concerns at that moment in time.

On March 23rd of this year, Justin Chapman, who has been a subject of controversy here due to his absurd claim that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association was in agreement with the City of Sierra Madre's Prop 218 water rate increase process, typed up a piece of purloined prose entitled Canyon Area of Sierra Madre Now Zoned R-C.

Allow me to cite two instances where Justin Chapman ripped of Bill Peters.

Peters (Paragraph 4): In 2008, canyon residents, frustrated with city building codes and zone requirements that they did not feel they could accommodate, were instrumental in opening the discussion for standards asking that for the completion of a draft that would apply only within the canyon zone.

Chapman (Paragraph 8): In 2008, canyon residents, frustrated with city building codes and zone requirements that they did not feel they could accommodate, were instrumental in opening the discussion for standards asking for the completion of a draft that would apply within the canyon zone.

Now I gave a second example of Justin Chapman's unaccredited misappropriations, but for the sake of brevity I am going to just reprint the one seen above. If you wish to review the entire article just scroll down to yesterday's post and have at it.

So here is where it gets pretty wild. Sometime yesterday afternoon the solons at the Sierra Madre Patch changed Chapman's article in such a way that it was no longer the lovely textbook example of plagiarism it was before they tampered with it.

And if you click here you will be able to see the article as it is now written. Gone are the things that I point to above, and in their place you will be able to see the following:

As stated in a Nov. 19, 2010 article by Patch contributor Bill Peters - "In 2008, canyon residents, frustrated with city building codes and zone requirements that they did not feel they could accommodate, were instrumental in opening the discussion for standards asking for the completion of a draft that would apply only within the canyon zone."

Of course, this change was made almost 15 hours after I had posted my article early yesterday morning. Obviously the Patchies had read my article by then and, horrified that they had been caught in so compromising a position, attempted to cover-up their crimes against journalism.

And since my only proof of plagiarism having been committed was the link to the offending article on the Sierra Madre Patch site, my case was tenuous at best. All they had to do was change it and my entire premise would be rendered laughable.

Which they did. So I guess I am doomed to wear the mantle of shame for the rest of my living days. Right?

Well, not exactly. No, maybe not even a little bit.

Remember I kicked this article off by saying nothing really disappears on the internet? Well, at least not right away. And Chapman's article still exists in its original plagiarized state if you know where to look. And that place is called Google Cache. There you can find things like this in its pristine original condition. Google Cache takes a screen shot of everything that shows up on the internet the day it appears. And if someone should later change the content of their little written piece for whatever reason, you can go there to reference it in its unadulterated form.

Here you can find Justin Chapman's article, Canyon Area of Sierra Madre Now Zoned R-C as it was originally posted. Plagiarism and all. All you have to do is click here.

Oh, the shame. The shame of it all.

So this leaves us with one more question to ponder today. Which is worse, plagiarizing someone else's work, or attempting to cover up that plagiarism by altering your words after you've been caught?

My opinion is that, while both are bad, the latter would be the worse of the two. Why? Because it not only gave the ever vigilant Sierra Madre Tattler yet one more opportunity to depants the poor fool, it also shows that all involved in these shenanigans are dumb enough to think they can cover up the evidence.

Which shows a certain lack of sophistication, to say the very least.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

67 comments:

  1. Sir Eric the Avenger, was there any explanation with the newly revised article? Any mea culpa, any oops, here, this is the remedy for my misguided choice? Or was it just a whole new despicable behavior on the Sierra Madre Patch site?

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  2. Cover ups are always a bad idea, and have become far too common and accepted in Sierra Madre.

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  3. This sham requires a forward to Aol.

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  4. I know what is worse than trying to cover things up. Getting caught by a blog that gets a few thousand hits a day. That's what.

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  5. In my business this would be grounds for dismissal of the reporter and the editor.

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  6. Chapman must have pictures.

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  7. Are there no adults at Aol-Patch?

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  8. Hiring unqualified and immature people for positions of responsibility ends badly most of the time. Maybe Chapman and Stephens would be perfectly good apprentices if they were closely monitored an mentored.

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  9. Unbelievable. They decided to cite the source and throw in some quotation marks. Unbelievable.

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  10. It isn't just Chapman. He may have lifted from Bill Peters words but dollars to donuts Justin doesn't have the key to the castle. Someone higher up the editing chain made the actual changes; and an even loftier editor trying to do damage control issued the writ to do so. In Stephens bit of heaven right here in Sierra Madre it wouldn't do to have a second run in with The Tattler. They never counted on Sir Eric's experience and expertise in his medium. Not just a writer of words but a journeyman, an honest to gad expert in his field - with attitude! The knight on the bridge daring the punks to cross.

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  11. The only thing that make sense is that whoever made the change may be older and unaware of the eternality of the internet.
    Surely the youth know that once it's out there, it's out there for good.
    Why wasn't there an apology from Chapman?
    Bad decision after a sloppy crime.

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  12. Such a tangled web we weave
    when we practice to deceive.

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  13. Do you think maybe they are drinkers over at the Patch, and we're seeing inebriated carelessness?

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  14. While interesting, and cudos to Mr. Maundry,but it's sort of like getting into a tither over not getting enough ketchup packets for your french fries.
    These people are young, inexperienced, and just learning how to parallel park.
    They should invest in a little time and money in some journalism courses, and perhaps ethics 101

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  15. Chapman doesn't just plagerize for Patch, don't forget he "writes" for other on-line and several weeklies as well. Wait 'till Pasadena Weekly gets the word.

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  16. $50 doesn't get original work, that comes at a price. $50 gets recycled words. Might take a whole day to investigate and write up a newsworthy article. By using other folks' work he can increase his income substantially. What a guy! What a credit to AOL and Arianna.

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  17. I disagree, 7:34. I'd make the comparison it's like a surgeon removing your left lung when it was the appendix that necessitated the surgery. Can your young, inexperienced justification hold in that case?

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  18. Original material requires an additional payment of $25. Truth will set you back an additional $15. And if you want an article that makes sense? Better bring it all to an even hundred.

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  19. The Nutty ProfessorApril 5, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    Remember the 60's slogan, "Do your own thing." Well, it doesn't apply to what is taught in the typical college writing class.

    Rather than write independently, you are encourage to work in "groups," work in a "lab," and work with "tutors." All this assistance makes it impossible for the average instructor to determine exactly what your contribution to the opus was.

    When I asked one student what he meant in a certain passage of his essay, he said he didn't know because it was written by his father's secretary.

    I have identical essays dated a year apart with different student names in the headerspace.

    Very likely Chapman learned to plagiarize in college classes.

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  20. Whew! I'm collecting the material for a piece on Patch's reliance on mis-information, lying, and plagerism featuring Lee, Stephens and Chapman! It'll take a couple of days... but I'll use their own words. Whadda u think the Pasadena Star News will pay?

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  21. To all the Weakly WritersApril 5, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    I am in the smallest room of my house. I have your manuscript before me. Soon it will be behind me.

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  22. Looks like 7:53 is a even younger than the patchies.

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  23. I guess the Blog is read by more people in higher positions than you knew. Keep up the good work.

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  24. I think by the small room in the house he meant his birdcage. Many Sierra Madre residents line their aviaries with the Weaklies.

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  25. Nothing will happen to Champman because nothing happens to liars and thieves in Sierra Madre. Just take a look at some of the city's leaders.

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  26. George Bernard ShawApril 5, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    7:53, How dare you plagiarize me!

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  27. Matt, Trey, is that you?

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  28. I just reposted the first 30 years of my life. I am now a licensed psychiatrist. That will be a $25 copay, please. Leave the money with the receptionist on your way out.

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  29. Latin major said ...

    Great article, but "lacunae" is plural. Should be "lacuna" singular.

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  30. 8:21, true indeed, but this theft and lie reaches outside Sierra Madre - maybe there will be a consequence.

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  31. Perhaps the discussion is about multiple gaps, 9:01?

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  32. To John Stevens and Justine Chapman, From Plagiarism.org

    "All of the following are considered plagiarism:

    turning in someone else's work as your own
    copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
    failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
    giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
    changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
    copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not

    Most cases of plagiarism can be avoided, however, by citing sources. Simply acknowledging that certain material has been borrowed, and providing your audience with the information necessary to find that source, is usually enough to prevent plagiarism."

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  33. Tattlers, watch for trolls today. I suspect the Patch family of liars, plagerizers abd fellow travelers will be posting in their own defense.

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  34. The Tattler site is protected by Troll Guard. Your 24 hour security service that protects while it disinfects.

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  35. Troll tell: They misspell plagiarize.

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  36. The troll tell I've noticed is that it's a comment that takes the focus off the subject matter of the article, and on to some kind of tussle between posters.
    I think the Patches are probably in a strategy session.

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  37. Have you ever wondered about the choice of the name "Patch" for the hyper-local Aol sites? I guess the idea was to go for good old country talk, our patch of the world, but there's also patch as in repair - something they have to do a lot of, and patch as in a small remainder of a larger piece. It's a forced and inauthentic name.

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  38. Aol is hardly known for it's authenticity. It is basically the Publishers Clearinghouse of Internet companies.

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  39. Any journalist, blog or print, knows about the basic ethical requirements. There has to be a conscious choice to violate the prohibition against plagiarism. Heck, the writer is staring at the copied, or cut and pasted, words. The only explanation is corruption. The only solution is public acknowledgment, and better luck at the next job. Plagiarism is not a trivial infraction, and as the quote from plagiarism.org @9:55 tells, it is easily avoided.

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  40. Patch brings to mind The Magazine.
    Conceived as nothing more than an income generating scheme,
    both pretending to be something they are not.
    The Magazine pretends to luxurious wealth and Patch pretends to locality.
    Frauds.

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  41. The Patch is filled with weeds.

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  42. So AOL has hired hundreds of writers across the country to keep the locals up on what's happening. But there is no quality control and plagiarism is OK with a writer and an editor in our own little patch. Why would you believe anything you read there?

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  43. The top 3 priorities at Patch are:
    1) advertising
    2) data capture
    3) news
    With the distance between #1 and #3 about as far as the human eye can see.

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  44. Good point 1:15. The honor of a journalist is the at the center of the matter.I sure won't waste time reading anything with Chapman's name on it.

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  45. When you see an article with Chapman's name on it the first thing you need to ask is who wrote it.

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  46. I slightly disagree 1:18, just about the top position. There is only one top priority at Patch Inc.: SEO, search engine optimization.

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  47. They're connected, 1:27. SEO is intended to drive traffic numbers up. The more traffic the more they can charge to advertise there. Patch traffic numbers are low, especially when you consider the amounts of money Aol is pumping into them. They will not come close to recouping their investment unless they give people a reason to go to their sites. Which they have not so far.

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  48. Great catch Crawford. Thanks.
    We knew they were part of the Shenanigan Follies when Chapman did such a bad job about the HJA and the city failure with Prop 218, and was then defended by Stephens.
    You would think that would have been enough to sober them up.

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  49. But 1:31, can't you win a spaliday?

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  50. Chapman has been a disaster for Patch. You can only why they continue to cover for him.

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  51. More interesting reading. Google: AOL patch plagiarism

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  52. If I read the Spaliday thing right, there is only one winner. One winner for all 500 Patches. We're talking lottery odds here. This promotion is a data trap. Your information will be sold. Count on it.

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  53. Eye opener 1:45 pm. It seems plagiarism is endemic in the Patch. Need some pretty strong weed killer!

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  54. Maybe there's a contest for Patch employees - who can plagiarize the most for the longest, or conversely, who can get caught the fastest?

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  55. The term "patchwriting" is a description for the cut and paste type of plagiarism.

    http://www2.hawaii.edu/~kenton/patchwriting/index.htm

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  56. a lot of reportsApril 5, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    This proliferation of plagiarism does not bode well for the life span of the patches.

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  57. The Sierra Madre patch, and others it seems, are living up to their name 2:33.

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  58. Is there a national registry for acts of plagiarism committed by the local patchians?

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  59. I think that registry is any Internet search engine. Put in the words "Patch" and "plagiarism" and you will find you have lots of reading to do.

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  60. AoL will have to set up a complaint center staffed with perky service reps.
    "Oh your work was stolen? We're so sorry. Give us your email address, home address, date of birth, Social Security Number, drivers license number and a small sample of saliva, and we'll send you a gift certificate for a local foot spa near you. Thanks for calling AoL, and keep writing!"

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  61. "Your call is important to us. Dial 1 if you feel your material has been reprinted without citation. Dial 2 if you think you might have been robbed blind. Dial 3 if you were surprised to find your life's work being used in an on-line campaign to capture personal data. For all other inquiries please dial 4."

    *beep!*

    "Your call is important to us. dial 1 ..."

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  62. "Due to unexpected high volume, your call will be answered in the order in which it was received. The estimated wait time is ten minutes. Or you can lodge a complaint on your local patch site at www.patch.yourtown......"

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  63. the Patch writers keep this up and they'll sink to the standards of Susan Henderson

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  64. I'm sure the Patch employees are giggling like a group of 10 year olds right now

    which is about their writing standard level

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  65. I went to my son's open house at Sierra Madre middle school. It was obvious that several of the papers on the wall were copied straight off the internet.

    I know of several parents that actually do the work for their children.

    At least I know my kid earned the B grade and can think on his own, but is already above the hiring standards at the Patch.

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  66. That is harsh, 7:40.

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  67. It is not difficult to see when a school paper is not written by a student. There is also an easy, sure cure - in class writing assignments.

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