We Are All Plagiarists

Somebody copied Slate writer Jody Rosen's old article on Jimmy Buffett—he found it plagiarized in a small Texas alt-weekly called the Bulletin. So he decided to hunt him down. That's when things got weird and he discovered that, basically, the history of the entire paper was plagiarized from a cornucopia of sources:

The Bulletin's site has no masthead, and most articles dating from the past few years are unbylined. The only name that appears consistently is Mark Williams, billed variously as "Music Editor," "Bulletin Music Editor," and "The Bulletin Staff Writer."

Eventually, a Google search turned up the name of the Bulletin's publisher, Mike Ladyman, whose surname did little to dispel the feeling that I had been sucked into a Charlie Kaufman screenplay.

Rosen obsessively hunted down dozens of the paper's plagiarisms, and called Ladyman some more. (He didn't care about the pesky "plagiarism" charges.) But... then he realized that the Bulletin might just be "ahead of its time," like the print version of, say, a news aggregator much like this website:

But perhaps the Bulletin is merely on-trend-or even ahead of its time. The Drudge Report, the Huffington Post, and Real Clear Politics have made names and money by sifting through RSS feeds; Tina Brown and Barry Diller are preparing the launch of their own news aggregator. Mike Ladyman and company may simply be bringing guerilla-style 21st-century content aggregation to 20th-century print media: publishing the Napster of newspapers.

ZING! Gotta run—time to check the RSS feeds.

Dude, You Stole My Article [Slate]