Alberta editor/publisher busted for rampant plagiarism, plays dumb
The publisher and editor of The Anchor Weekly in Chestermere, Alta., has been accused of repeatedly plagiarizing the work of several American humourists in four out of five columns he has written over the past year.
He was first busted by humour (or humor, I guess, since he’s American) writer George Waters. Having read about another writer whose columns had been plagiarized, Waters googled phrases from a few of his columns. His search led him straight to The Anchor Weekly publisher and editor Steve Jeffrey.
Waters dug into the paper’s last year of issues and found more instances of apparent theft. From Waters’s blog:
“The Anchor” has online archives which go back a year. I searched 52 issues using the same process, and I discovered that I was not the only writer whose work Jeffrey was using under his own byline in his weekly column, “Sittin’ in the Lighthouse.” In all, I found 41 evidently plagiarized columns by 14 different humor writers in the past 12 months.I say “evidently” only because I have not communicated with all 13 of the other writers yet, so I do not frankly know if they each sold their writing to Mr. Jeffrey with the understanding that, as part of the deal, he would be posting it under his own name and photo.It seems, to be charitable, unlikely, however. I certainly made no such deal.
(To be entirely accurate, there were 42 instances when Jeffrey’s “Lighthouse” column used content from sources not his own, not 41. But on June 23 and October 27 of 2011, for some reason, he printed the same co-opted column.)
Andrew Beaujon from the Poynter Institute then took up the case, actually contacting Jeffrey, who played (very) dumb:
Reached by telephone in Alberta, where he said he was about to travel to British Columbia for two weeks, Jeffrey seemed baffled by Waters’ allegations. His column, he told me, doesn’t even touch on comedy. “I don’t write humor, and I don’t blog,” he said. “I write a ‘Lighthouse’ column, but ‘Lighthouse’ is about local politics.”
My conversation with Jeffrey was surreal. When I relayed Waters’ allegations, Jeffrey responded, “I don’t know what to say.” When I asked if the columns that ran under his name weren’t his, he said, “I would say yes because I don’t like humor.”
After checking that I was on the phone with the Steve Jeffrey in question, I offered to send him examples of two of the columns Waters says were taken from other writers. He promised to read the columns and get back in touch with me.
On its website, the Anchor calls itself an “Alternative newspaper.”
Published since 2001, The Anchor Weeklyprovides readers in our region, local news coverage and provocative coverage of arts and entertainment.With a circulation of 10,000, the paper each week reaches more than 30,000 active, educated and affluent readers, who look to The Anchor to guide their lifestyle and entertainment choices. Readers rely on The Anchor’s intelligent and provocative coverage of local social issues, politics, arts and culture.
We embrace alternative views, alternative topics, and alternative content.
We don’t have a manual on how to be an alternative newspaper, we just grew up that way.
The residents of Chestermere, Langdon, Strathmore, Calgary, and the rest of “our Anchorage” are nothing like you’ve seen elsewhere in the region. Literate. Highly articulate. Politically aware. Socially conscious. They are a group with a mind all their own.
And, to reach out to unique people, you need a unique newspaper.
The Anchor speaks the kind of language this group easily relate to. The kind of journalism they understand, respect, believe in and act upon.
Here’s Jeffrey’s Linkedin bio. Prior to The Anchor Weekly, he appears to have had no journalism training or experience. He does lists himself as a board member with the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association but I found no record of him on the AWNA website or on the past boards listed here.