George Waters, a humour columnist and blogger whose work appears in numerous California publications was surprised a couple of weeks ago when a curiosity-fuelled Google search brought to his attention the fact that his work had been lifted by a weekly community newspaper in Canada.
He looked into it further and noticed 42 instances over the last 12 months that Steve Jeffrey, the editor and publisher of The Anchor, a community newspaper serving Chestermere, Alta., had allegedly run content written by others under his own byline.
Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon got Jeffrey on the phone for a strange conversation:
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.
According to Beaujon, Jeffrey was confused by the allegations because his column doesn’t touch on comedy. “I don’t write humour and I don’t blog,” he told Beaujon. “I write a ‘Lighthouse’ column, but ‘Lighthouse’ is about local politics.”
We were unable to see what sorts of local politics this column covers because over at The Anchor website, there is no sign of the Lighthouse columns. Further, archived links of The Anchor on issuu have been removed as well.
Waters lays out a number of comparisons between original work and the allegedly plagiarized material published by Jeffrey in The Anchor here, though there is no way to verify them, as we are unable to find Jeffrey's versions online.
Also, check out Poynter’s reporting on the issue here.
As the Poynter article noted, Jeffrey is in transit for the next few weeks. When I got in touch with him via email asking for comment on the allegations and where the online versions of his material had gone, he simply said he would be happy to chat upon his return in three weeks, and pointed out to me that The Anchor's website was up.