In journalism, one of the first things writers learn is not to plagiarize from other writers. Writers’ works should be their own, or at the very least attributed to the original source. That’s true whether covering city hall or writing calendar listings. Plagiarism is a fire-able offense, as many a reporter has learned.
This week, the Bay Area Reporter became aware that the SF Bay Times was cribbing the calendar listings from BARtab, our monthly nightlife publication. BARtab editor Jim Provenzano spends a lot of time writing the listings, adding his creative flair and making them unique. That’s what a good writer does, even with something that can seem mundane, like calendar listings.
What caught our eye was the sheer number of identical listings that appeared in the April 5 edition of the Bay Times – and that whoever compiled the listings (Robert Fuggiti is the byline listed) even managed to copy Jim’s typos. That was evidence enough for us to fire off a letter to Bay Times publisher Betty Sullivan, asking her to immediately cease and desist.
Here’s one example:
From the April 1, 2012 edition of BARtab:
Bijou @ Martuni’s
Enjoy an Easter-themed musical cabaret show post-sisters in the Park, with Molly Gazay, Robb Huddleston, Nikki Arias, hostess Trauma Flintstone and accompanist Alan Choy. $5. 7pm. 4 Valencia St. at Market. 241-0205.
Here’s the April 5, 2012 Bay Times:
Bijou @ Martuni’s. Enjoy an Easter-themed musical cabaret show post-sisters in the Park, with Molly Gazay, Robb Huddleston, Nikki Arias, hostess Trauma Flintstone and accompanist Alan Choy. $5. 7pm. 4 Valencia St. www.dragatmartunis.com.
Readers should note the typo – not capitalizing the word “Sisters” that appeared in Jim’s BARtab listing. And yet there it is again in the Bay Times, along with the word-for-word description of the event. The only difference is that Jim includes a phone number, the Bay Times listed a website. That is not enough of a distinction to make the work one’s own.
Listings from April 9, April 10, April 11, and April 12 are all the same, with the exception of one for April 9 that was given a different title. The listings for April 13 are different. The listings for April 14 include two (La Bota Loca and Frolic) that are identical to BARtab. A recent review has determined that plagiarism has occurred in the previous three consecutive issues.
We sent Sullivan the letter. She responded that she would look into it. Then today she called us and said she was sorry about the situation.
“I will take every step to correct it,” she said. “I was surprised by it and am sorry about it.”
We’re appreciative that Sullivan has pledged to rectify the situation and look forward to next week’s Bay Times calendar being BARtab-free.