Plagarism Allegations Leveled Against The Advocate, Southern Voice

Two big names in the LGBT press–The Advocate and Southern Voice in Atlanta–have been hit by allegations that they stole quotes from other authors and then reproduced them as their own. Thanks to Queerty–whose founder David Hauslaib spoke last week at NLGJA’s conference–for the heads-up.

Ricky Maranon, managing editor of EscapeOKC and a student at the University of Oklahoma, says The Advocate lifted quotes from his piece on Oklahoma wanting to opt-out of the new hate crimes bill.

I cancelled my Spring Break plans and made interview requests with State Sen. Andrew Rice, Rep. Wes Hilliard and Paul Sund and left a request with Sen. Russell’s office. I got in touch with everyone except Sen. Russell, who apparently has barred me from entering his office for life, and I was escorted out of the office by his secretary.

This story went to many national media outlets where I was rightfully given credit for my work, even on MSNBC. I got credit from everyone except The Advocate.

A reporter by the name of Michelle Garcia, copy and pasted my quotes and then summarized my story, and then she proceeded to call someone in Washington to comment on a story about Oklahoma as a variation.

He says he’s taken legal action and contacted The Advocate, but hasn’t heard back from them.

According to ProjectQAtlanta, a SoVo freelancer appeared to lift direct quotes from an article on dog trainer Victoria Stillwell from a story done weeks earlier by Fenuxe. ProjectQ says the SoVo issue with the allegedly lifted quotes has been taken down from SoVo’s site and that the story never made it online.  The story, however, is available on ProjectQ.

But let’s back up a few steps and break this down. A media outlet lifting a story from another media outlet without attributing it and/or linking it to the source is a pretty serious matter – it strikes at the credibility that readers expect. And lifting pieces from another media outlet and branding them as your own is something ethicists and attorneys tend to call plagiarism.

Unfortunately, that’s a phrase already familiar to SoVo’s owner, Gaydar. They lost the editor of their first gay paper, the Atlanta Free Press, shortly before it collapsed and stopped publishing. He quit after reports surfaced that he was fired from his last job – ironically, at SoVo before Gaydar bought it earlier this year – for fabricating two stories.

Hopefully, the Advocate and SoVo can clear up confusion over the alleged quote-lifting.

5 Responses

  1. Re-writes are nothing new. Reporters have been ripping off their colleagues for as long as journalism has existed. But the failure to credit the original reporter seems to be the big faux pas here, and I get the sense that it’s a failure to which legacy-journalist are more susceptible then those who’ve worked online.

    Online, it’s simply expected that you’ll link to your source. In fact, when I work for print publications, I find it rather frustrating that I can’t insert links. But my experience has been that reporters who pre-date online news have a tendency to avoid acknowledging that other publications exist. I wonder if some reporters perceive it as better to lift a quote and do a re-write than to link to the “competition.”

  2. Also, how does one go about getting a copy of The Advocate? I tried to find one this weekend — in the Castro, of all places — and couldn’t. It’s an insert inside of Out Magazine these days, right?

    • My understanding is that it is only available as part of a subscription to “Out” and not available on news stands.

      • Interesting that Marnin’s allegations have vanished. Why wasn’t The Advocate contacted for a comment on this?

  3. “Legal action,” the word Marnin used in his headline, appears to consist entirely of using the phrase “cease and desist” in the letter he wrote to the Advocate. I don’t imagine that has them shaking in their boots.

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