The past few weeks have not been banner weeks for writers...well, at least a handful of them. First we had "The DaVinci Code" violation...Dan Brown was cleared for wrongdoing and sent on his merry way while the two other guys who wrote the other book...you know...the one that, henceforth, will be infamously known as "the other book"...will be destined to go down in history like the Walter Hunt/Elias Howe/Isaac Singer sewing machine patent fiasco. WHO is Walter Hunt you ask? Exactly.
Enter one Harvard University sophomore, 19-year-old Kaavya Viswanathan, whose two-book deal with Little, Brown and Co., got pulled off shelves faster than the average person can spell the word "plagiarism". Now, I'm no Harvard grad...but you can bet I knew from the 3rd grade that when you COPY something from the encyclopedia, like when you are doing that essay on Lincoln, you PARAPHRASE something...you rewrite it...you do everything but copy it verbatim. So, she lifts portions of Megan McCafferty's book and claims she musta, in essence, "just remembered them too well"...oh sorry, the legal term they used was "internalized"...she inadvertently "internalized" McCafferty's words and just went ahead and wrote them down as her own. Oh...sorry again...at least change the state from NEW JERSEY to something a little less obvious...maybe New Hampshire? Maybe I need to write a book about New Jersey, too...yes, about a girl from Jersey who reads about a girl half her age who gets a two-book deal who goes to Harvard and apparently doesn't have the sense to change the facts enough, all the while shopping while her boyfriend, if she woulda had one, would've pointed this all out to her...REPEATEDLY. "Hello...Little, Brown and Co....I'm definitely available...and I know how to 'Google'."
Exit one Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose job at the Los Angeles Times writing a column and Internet blog is now history. Michael Hiltzik was caught "self-blogging" on his "Golden State" blog. What I mean by that is that he surreptitiously "pretended" to be someone else commenting on his own blog. Now I didn't go TO his blog...IF it's even still there...but something tells me he knew all too well the comeback line for whatever quips he came up with. Hey, prize-toting dude...that's totally unethical...do you NOT have a conscience? Do you not have any morals...do you not have any sense to NOT get caught?? How the heck do you get caught on your OWN blog faking your own comments? Did you not have the forethought to maybe use a computer that wasn't AT your desk IN your office? Maybe like signing onto your kid's computer or something? Maybe use some guy's computer at Starbucks when he goes to the bathroom? Oh, he says he only did it once...at his blog...but admitted to commenting on other blogs about his blog and newspaper. Something tells me Mr. Hiltzik wasn't a Harvard grad...hmmm....or was he? Ironically, his Pulitzer came from a series of articles he co-wrote with reporter, Chuck Phillips, on exposing corruption in the entertainment industry. "Yo, Chuck...I got yer next Pulitzer right here!"
So, I anxiously await the next writer to go down...because that puts ME that much closer to getting that elusive book deal...or cushy newspaper job. "Hey, LA Times people...are you reading this?"
A Bit About Me
- Mariann Simms
- Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".