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Missoulian stories stolen! Examiner.com ‘contractors’ sought in heist

Never thought we’d end up writing about ourselves in the Missoulian crime blog – until we ended up victims of a theft.

Turns out that at least a couple of people who write for Examiner.com, a hyper-local news aggregator site, aren’t doing much writing at all, other than to change a phrase or two.

Check it out:

On Aug. 15, Tristan Scott, the Missoulian’s Flathead reporter, wrote this story about a clash between mountain bikers and conservationists:

What began as an act of civil disobedience by renegade mountain biker Ron Cron – who in May 2009 was caught building an illegal trail called “Original Sin” on Crane Mountain near Bigfork – has since evolved into a volunteer service agreement with the Flathead National Forest to maintain and improve existing trails.

But a conservation group charges that much of Cron’s trail work exceeds the scope of mere “maintenance,” and accuses Forest Service officials of turning a blind eye to a growing network of unauthorized “extreme” downhill bike trails.

On Aug. 17, Sarah Coffey, who “reports” on environmental news in Missoula for Examiner.com, wrote this:

What started as an act of civil disobedience by renegade mountain biker Ron Cron – who in May 2009 was caught building an illegal trail called “Origional Sin” on Crane Mountain near Bigfork- has since changed into a volunteer service agreement with the Flathead National Forest to maintain and improve exsisting trails.

But a conservation group complains that most of Cron’s trail work goes over the scope of mere “maintenance” and accuses the Forest Service officials of turning a blind eye to a growing network of unauthorized “extreme” downhill bike trails.

On July 11, Missoulian reporter Jamie Kelly wrote this:

After eight hours of deliberations, a jury found a Stevenville woman guilty on Friday night of vehicular homicide and two other charges while the family of the victim erupted in tears.

Katie Garding was accused of striking and killing Bronson Parsons, originally from Troy, with her SUV on a darkened Highway 200 in East Missoula while driving drunk on Jan. 1, 2008.

The jury returned the verdict at 9:05 p.m. after a day of closing arguments in which Garding’s defense contended she was wrongfully charged after law enforcement pursued bad evidence.

Garding kept her head down and was visibly shaking after the verdicts were read.

A day later, Tosha Gillis – who purports to “cover” Missoula courts – wrote this:

It took eight hours of deliberations, but a jury found Katie Garding, a Stevenville woman, guilty on Friday night of vehicular homicide along with two other charges. The family of the victim erupted in tears while the verdict was read.

Katie Garding was accused of striking and killing Bronson Parsons, with her SUV on Highway 200 in East Missoula, while driving drunk on Jan. 1, 2008.

The verdict was read at 9:05 p.m. after a day of closing arguments. Katie Garding’s defense contended she was wrongfully charged after law enforcement pursued bad evidence.

Katie Garding kept her head down and was visibly shaking after the verdicts were read.

Gillis’ bio vaguely mentions her intention to attend the University of Montana School of Law, while Coffey describes herself as a UM environmental studies student who has written several stories for the school paper.

Yet neither is listed in the UM directory, and a search of the Kaimin archives reveals no stories by Coffey.

There’s more. Lots more. So we called Examiner.com’s Denver office (303-291-8800) where a woman named Lindsey repeatedly refused to give us the name of its attorney (“you can email legal@examiner.com“) or of either woman’s supervisor (“they’re not employees, they’re independent contractors”). She directed us to Examiner.com’s terms of use page to log complaints.

Yeah, we’ll do that. But we’ll do this, too – and so can you. Tweet your own plagiarism tales at #Examinerplagiarism

Gwen Florio

2 comments to Missoulian stories stolen! Examiner.com ‘contractors’ sought in heist

  • Kristen

    Way to go, Gwen!

  • I write for a number of popular tech news outfits. When I spot plagiarism of my work on one of them, I tell the editor, and it’s his company’s problem to deal with it — unless my contract with them is (as some are) for first publication only, in which case I own all or most other rights to that article.

    When it’s my work, meant in the contractual sense, that gets ripped off, I bill the offenders, then sue them if they do not pay.

    I once got triple damages in a court-ordered settlement from Time for work they “forgot” to pay me for. Smaller companies tend to just pay up, since my freelance rates are not very high. The Time megalith should have just paid up, too, but their lawyer said it was company policy to fight all lawsuits. A nice young man of biracial heritage, important only because my wife is black and he was asking me how my children and grandchildren dealt with race matters. He later emailed me to say that he had left Time and had joined a generalist law firm. Nice guy.

    If someone uses my work, then removes it from their site and gives me an apology, that’s nice, but it doesn’t pay bills. I put that in the class of “exposure,” which low/no pay publishers sometimes offer in lieu of cash: it will be meaningful to me only when I can spend it at the gas station. Right now, under our current economic system, it’s meaningless.

    BTW – pro or no, I write and do video work for free when I want to. Note the “when I want to.” This long comment is here because I want it. And later today I’m going to an Occupy Manatee Avenue event (I’m in Manatee County, FL; We have no Wall Street so we make do with what we have) and will tape it with a broadcast-quality vidcam and produce a broadcast-quality feature about it.

    Maybe one of the local TV stations will buy it, but that’s unlikely. So it’ll end up on my YouTube channel — and once it’s there, if a TV station or network uses it, they *will* get a bill. :)

    Have fun, chillens, and never forget that when you deserve to be paid, you need to COLLECT, not complain.

    - Robin ‘Roblimo’ Miller
    Bradenton, Florida

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