Thursday ∗ 27 Aug 2015

The portrait of a columnist as plagiarist

It has been confusing to say the least. But also it has been quite fascinating, this whole case of Ducky Paredes versus the broadsheet Malaya.

Because it’s such a public display of what goes through the mind of a man who has been accused of plagiarism, and the kind of defensive stance he’s decided to take. How the decision to turn this story around — in fact get ahead of the story — and claim that one had been oppressed and un-paid, therefore that would explain whatever actions he was to be accused of.

To be accused of. Because in fact we heard about how things went down between Paredes and Malaya only at the point when the paper found the need to defend itself against Paredes’s accusations as posted on Facebook.

That’s the thing: we found out about the story when it was deemed over by Paredes — he was moving on to the next thing. So the loudest voice we’re hearing is his, not at all acknowleding the serious allegation and crime that is plagiarism.

And of course Pinoy social media is just too busy, too many things are going on after all, to even form an opinion about this. The few who have spoken tend towards forgiveness — even when Paredes has yet to even apologize.

So in aid of a better understanding of the Tale of the Veteran Columnist and the Broadsheet Called Freedom, a timeline seems to be in order.

On August 13, Paredes was informed by Malaya that they had found whole paragraphs lifted from other newspapers in Paredes’s columns. This is from Malaya’s News Desk Editor addressed to Paredes, as published in an article written by Malaya publisher  Amado P. Macasaet.

“Sir Pocholo (Romualdez) has asked me to email to you the concerns of the news desk regarding the columns that you submitted for today (Aug. 13 for Aug. 14 issue), titled “Neither Leni nor Grace for Mar,” and yesterday (Aug. 12 for Aug. 13 issue), titled “The NPC’s choice: Mar or Grace?”

“We noted that the two columns had the first half lifted from stories of the Inquirer and the second half from the Manila Standard.

“In your column that appeared today, the first 19 out of 20 paragraphs were lifted faithfully from the Inquirer story “NPC sizes up Roxas, Poe” which was posted on Aug. 12 (banner).

“The last 18 paragraphs of your column came from the Manila Standard’s story titled “Roxas, Grace vie for NPC support” which appeared on Aug. 12 (banner).

<…>

“We are even more concerned because the column that you submitted for tomorrow (Aug. 14) also had parts lifted from the Inquirer’s story, “Civil society group launches Leni Robredo for VP drive (Aug. 13, page 1),” and the Standard’s “Poe hits Mar, LP” (Aug. 11, banner).

On August 13 Paredes’s editors in Malaya had found that he had plagiarized three of his columns from different stories from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Manila Standard.  Given these, Malaya decided to get Paredes’s explanation before publishing the last plagiarized column. The other two they had published with reservations. Malaya’s letter to Paredes ends:

“Because of this, Sir Pocholo asked me to relay this message: “Pending your explanation, I have decided not to use your column. It won’t look good for you as a columnist and it won’t look good for us as a paper.”

Two days after, on August 15, Paredes replied to to Malaya’s letter.

“For a long time now, I have been writing columns for Malaya without compensation. I have not been paid for over a year or more. Thus, if your decision is that you will never use what I submit to Malaya, well and good. I will no longer submit anything to Malaya. This is the end of our relationship. Thank you and good bye.

“Tell your Sir Pocholo that my explanation is that you got what you paid for. Malaya treated me badly when Malaya stopped paying for my columns and still expected me to submit columns regularly even to reminding me when a column was not submitted on time and insisting submission. I believe that Malaya got what it paid for and no thanks to anyone. I thought someone would have noticed earlier that I was writing crap which was also what you were paying me but obviously, no one at the news desk was even reading what I was submitting. Goodbye and good luck to you and the staff.

On August 19, without anyone knowing what was going on with Paredes and Malaya, and without anyone hearing about plagiarism charges, Paredes announced on his Facebook that he was ending his column with the broadsheet.

dparedes_aug19

Note that Paredes was first to put down a newspaper that had been home to his column for years. To explain the fact that he was leaving Malaya, he accused the paper of not paying him for his columns.

On August 24, Paredes had another Facebook status in relation to Malaya.

dparedes_aug24

Note that while Paredes was announcing that he was going to start writing for a website, he again put down Malaya by saying that he will not be paid for his columns. But it’s okay because his blog has “over 2 million page views with a high of 25,000 hits per day.”

Let me get over the claim of page views — malay natin ka-level pala niya si Sarah Geronimo at #AlDub, why not?

But also one wonders if Paredes knows what the set-up will be like with a site like ManilaSpeak.com, which is merely an an aggregator so you technically do not write for the site. You write for other sites, or your blog, and you let them include you in their list of columnists.  

Which brings me to another point of confusion and fascination. If Paredes was actually using plagiarism as a way to get back at Malaya for not paying him for his columns, if his explanation for plagiarized articles and crap writing is that Malaya gets what it pays for, then will he be writing better, more original stuff now that he’s not being “maltreated” by a broadsheet like Malaya?

I mean, for a man like Paredes, how much does one need to earn to NOT plagiarize? And how efficient must the payments be to NOT do crap writing?

Of course the charge that Malaya had not paid Paredes “for a while now” has been disputed by the paper’s publisher, who checked with their accounting office and found that in fact Paredes has a bundle of cheques amounting to P430,400 pesos. Paredes had stopped claiming his checks in 2013.

Wow. Even with close to half a million pesos in salaries waiting to be collected, Paredes got back at Malaya by delivering plagiarized crap writing early this month!

Fascinating, isn’t it?

***

PS: Not to pop Paredes’s bubble, but he might need to be told that if his blog is getting more hits than usual, it might be because people are trying to see if he’s been plagiarizing all these yearsand not just in those three columns that the Malaya editors had caught. One of the columns that Malaya caught Paredes plagiarising in is still up on his site and is number 1 below. Numbers 2 and 3 are blog entries I picked at random, and which I found had whole sections lifted from various sites. Number 2 was a failure of acknowledging a source.

I’m beginning to think Paredes just might not know what constitutes plagiarism, and why citing sources, hyperlinking, is an important practice. Or maybe he really doesn’t care? That would be cool, too. And fascinating.

1. The NPC’s Choice: Mar or Grace? 08.13.15
The same as:
Source 1 from PDI, August 12
Source 2 from PDI, August 11
Source 3 from The Manila Standard, August 12

2. In a 2012 column entitled “Letter from an ‘Old’ Golfer he lifts a whole poem, turns it into an essay, without acknowledging who had originally written the piece, or where he had gotten it. It’s from this site and is by Shri S K Suri.

3. In a 2009 column entitled “The Warmest Decade (So Far)”, much of the middle paragraph is taken from various websites: Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4.

Posted in: bayan, edukasyon, kalalakihan, kultura, media, pangyayari, social media, the elite

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