Plagiarism: How the AP’s Tim Reynolds Stole the Show
While my blogs will encompass a myriad of topics, my first blog entry is going to be about a case of plagiarism by an Associated Press Sports Writer named Tim Reynolds that occurred involving a piece I wrote for Bleacher Report back on November 1 of this year.
First, let me begin by explaining that Bleacher Report is a sports website where the writers are the readers. Anyone and everyone can, and are encouraged to, write on the site, posting articles on a wide range of sports topics. It’s a site I dearly loved, and loved writing for up until just recently, when many of the changes to the site, and the attitudes of those running it forced me to decide I wanted nothing more to do with it.
I was a Featured Columnist for the site for the Miami Heat and Florida Marlins, and wrote a number of articles about other teams and sports as well, such as the Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, Miami Hurricanes Football team, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, etc.
As a Featured Columnist for the Miami Heat, I wrote a preview of the game between the Heat and the Chicago Bulls that took place on Sunday, November 1, 2009. I wrote the preview and posted it that Sunday morning at 10: 00 AM.
You can currently read it here, but I’ll also eventually be posting the entire article as a post here on my blog, as well as putting links to the articles, original and edited, by Tim Reynolds at the end of this piece.
After the game was played (a game in which Miami beat the Bulls), I was very enthusiastic about writing a recap of the event. Before I did, however, I went and downloaded the only recap available just after the game, written by Tim Reynolds, the regular Miami Heat Sports Writer for the Associated Press.
To encapsulate it, Tim Reynolds pretty much writes all the recaps of Miami Heat games for the Associated Press. He generally writes them within an hour or so after the game is finished, and will update the recap over the next 12 hours or so to include information he may have not initially included. What he almost never does, though, is delete or excise any of the relevant piece he originally wrote.
All of this is completely unremarkable, except for one thing. On November 1, 2009, Tim Reynolds wrote a recap of the game immediately after it was over that included a bulleted three part section with an intro sentence that was a condensed version of my preview, including some parts that were verbatim (word for word).
I had downloaded and saved his recap to my harddrive with the intention of reading his recap (which I always did), in order to make sure my own recap focused on a different player and aspect of the game than his. When I read his recap a little later I was stunned to see this obvious case of plagiarism. I was flattered in a way as well, knowing that he had read my preview, and that he would actually include it (albeit in a condensed version) in his recap.
However, despite the feelings of flattery, I was also a bit miffed. Why hadn’t he noted where he’d gotten these thoughts. Why hadn’t he simply noted that the thoughts he was expressing were something he’d read in my preview. It would have been a simple thing, and if he had, I would have been ecstatic.
With that in mind I woke up the next morning intent on seeing how I could deal with this (was there someone I could complain to?). I also checked the Yahoo! Sports pages to check it out again, and lo and behold, the entire section that was relevant to the plagiarism had been excised. It was crystal clear Mr. Reynolds’ editors recognized that the section he’d included was plagiarism, and had deleted it in hopes that I had never noticed it.
I then called some attornies just to get an idea of what exactly I could do, and once I’d talked to them, as well as my former boss, Robert Cutrona, who is an attorney himself, I wrote a letter to Tim Reynolds via the Associated Press since I didn’t have his e-mail, including asking them for his e-mail so I could correspond with him about this matter privately.
I never received a reply, and after nearly a month I decided to call them and demand his e-mail address. I was given it, and promptly sent him an e-mail regarding the plagiarism. The response I received was immediate, but not from Mr. Reynolds, but his Deputy Editor at the Associated Press.
She informed me they were looking into the matter, and would get back to me soon.
After a week went by with no further response, I called her, and was told that one of their in-house attornies was at that moment drafting a reply to my query.
Their reply, in a nutshell? F**k off!
They basically told me they’d investigated the matter, and that there was no evidence whatsoever that there was any plagiarism.
Well, I’ll let my readers, as well as a judge and jury when it gets to that point, decide that matter.
To my readers, let me know what you think.
Here is a link to Tim Reynolds’ excised article on Yahoo! Sports
Now here are links to copies of Tim Reynold’s original article on some of the numerous sites it is still on:
If you notice the bulleted three-part section in his “original” piece, which was removed almost immediately from his official site, but as you can see is still up even today at numerous sites they forwarded the story to, I think it’s quite easy to see how he plagiarized from my work.
I won’t even bother trying to explain it point by point, because I think a five year-old could see it.