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Sunday, December 17, 2006



Earlier today I ran a story on this site about the news that Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen is expanding its ointarpoes. At first, I was pleased to share the news with site visitors that a great local business was doing good things in our community, and reaping the benefits of their hard labor. As with the vast majority of the stories published on this site, the source material came from another local media outlet, in this case, the always relevant and well-renowned Sacramento Bee. In the second sentence of the story, I included a link back to the original online article, as is my practice with all aggregated content. If I could only have foreseen what the response was to be from the post, trust me, I never would have bothered to help promote the mobile food truck which I so greatly enjoy.I got this message at around 3:30 this afternoon via Facebook from the writer who wrote the piece published on Sacbee.com:CM: Are you kidding me? You basically lifted my story and called it your own do some original reporting and show some ethics i.e. quit biting and don't be a hackTo which I promptly responded:IG: I put the link in there! I gave credit to your newspaper! Why would you call me a hack without even knowing me? You ever watch the local news? They copy the Bee's work word for word and don't even bother to mention the sourceCM: Come on dude, you basically just re-worded my story just because you gave a link doesn't clear you from the fact you plagiarised my story amateur hour is over, siryeah and they're not supposed to do that either OR you could have done some original reporting. If I tried to pull exactly what you did I would get nailed for plagiarism get a clue, guyIG: no ones paying me buddy, ITS A BLOGCM: I don't care show some ethics and don't just re-word people's stuff and call it your ownIG: Do you know what aggregate is?(Note: In the F.A.Q. page of this site, it is posted, as it always has been, what the function of this webpage was meant to be.Q: What is ranSACkedmedia.com anyways?A: ranSACkedmedia.com in the simplest definition is a local content aggregate site that puts news and information into context for you the reader. We focus on the Sacramento region and collect all the interesting and relevant articles we find on the web and present them in a way that we hope you will find entertaining and informative. We believe there’s a hell of a lot more going on in our community than what you see on the nightly news and we want to show it to you.)CM: do you know what palgiarism is?* plagiarismread the two stories side by side you are a lazy blogger or reporter or whatever you call yourselfIG: Yes, but you're being overly sensitive I love this city, and share stories I like, I respect your paper, and your work, and gave your article full creditCM: I also care about my work and the time it takes me to report and write something and have no patience for lazy hacks like you IG: imitation is considered the greatest form of flatterybut i guess you're just too sensitive to see thatCM: I'm not flatteredyou went beyond just paraphrasing something the good news is that maybe 10 people are going to see your story anywaysIG: if i was lazy, i would have cut and pasted your article and never mentioned your site, and then i wouldn't have responded to you, and I would have sold ads. I did link to your great article, I did rewrite what I wanted to, and there are no ads on my siteI like food trucks and just wanted to help spread good newsCM: you might as well have OR you could have called Drewski himself and done some original reporting what a concept, huh?IG: you just got crazy with your emotions and attacked me while assuming my intentionsthe fact that you cared to contact me makes me think you're pretty pettyCM: thank you Dr. Hack next time do some original reporting and there's no problemyeah I do care when someone straight up plagiarizes my work it's a cardinal sin of reporting, helloIG: next time don't blow up when a site that get's 10 views reports on your finely written articleand links to itopenlyCM: next time hopefully you'll know betterIG: whatever buddyCM: just posting a link doesn't make it right, buddygood luck trying to get a real writing gig around sacIG: welcome to the digital domain my friendgood luck trying to be a happy person in lifeCM: welcome to journalism ethics my friend and I'm actually very happy with my actual writing career about an awesome subjectIG: and you do a great jobwhich is why people write about what you write about in this new frontierCM: ha! nice one thanks for being the guy behind the guy p.s. here's Drewski's #: 916-***-**** feel free to call him yourself some time and write your own piece it would be good for you. You're welcome IG: you know what, since no one is going to read my little site, I'll just add this transcript to the bottom? would that make you happy?(I really didn't have any plans to post this on the internet, I had just reread the entire thread and realized that CM was coming off a bit like a dick and probably regretted the way he had made some of his arguments. It's funny now to me that after this point CM becomes a little more civil.)CM: what would make me happy is you not so blatantly re-wording my articles I don't know why this is such a difficult concept for you whatever I'm actually on deadline and need to finish an actual story so good day to you and good luck!IG: I look forward to reading it.I'm working on an article too: About the time I pissed off the Sac Bee food writer Maybe the 10 people who look at my site will get a little chuckleCM: haha! I truly hope that someday you understand where I'm coming from, because my friends in the biz all think this is pretty lamebut if you're comfortable with it all, so be it, and good luck to you And that, as the people say, was that. Two grown adults, with a difference of opinion, had a private discussion. And I must admit, nothing about it made me feel good. Actually, I felt pretty rotten. I don't want to make writer feel like their work has been pilfered. That’s why I always make it a point to insert a hyperlink into any article that contains source material from another organization. But I also don’t like being called a hack simply because I like food trucks and I wanted to also share the good news about Drewski’s in this forum.I understand where CM is coming from, but truth be told, we’re all dipping into a pretty small well here in Sacramento. I write crime articles all the time off of the SacPD daily log, and when I see the same piece posted in the crime section of the Bee, I don’t get angry about it. When I hear reports on the KCRA nightly newscast lifted word-for-word of a Bee story, I don’t hear them give the newspaper any credit. I’ve always been upfront about what I’ve wanted to achieve with this little “10-hit-a-day site“, to just spread interesting and relevant content with digital users, just as sites like gawker.com and consumerist.com. Except I've never made a dime while doing it. You don't see ads plastered all over the place here, and the few ads that I have run were to promote some of my friends work, and I gave those ads away for free. This is just an itsy-bitsy-teent-weeny corner of the new frontier of online media, and I’m not going to apologize for that because I didn't invent it.And goddamn it I wasn’t ready to put the whole thing to bed and not let it bother me until I got this message from the famous local poet Josh Fernandez:JF: You bit the fuck out of this story! Macias is pissed! So now here we are. I’m writing this piece, not necessarily in defense of what I’ve done, which again I don’t think needs defending because I’ve done everything in the open, with proper credit where credit is due with the only intention of promoting a great local outfit that I would love to see thrive. I’m writing it only because you, CM, decided it couldn’t be just between you and I. You wanted to tell whoever would listen that I’m a plagiarizing hack. You’ve forced me to defend myself, so I’ll do it in my own forum.pla•gia•rism [ple1yjə reczzəm](plural pla•gia•risms) n1. stealing somebody's work or idea: the process of copying another person's idea or written work and claiming it as original2. something plagiarized: a piece of written work or an idea that somebody has copied and claimed as his or her ownYou’re the professional writer, and I as you yourself pointed out, am the amateur. So why then am I informing you of the correct definition of plagiarism? I never claimed it was my own, or that is was original. The second line in the post is “…the man running the show over at Drewski’s, tells the Sacramento Bee…” with the link to your story.I'm not going to claim that I'm a great writer, hell, I'm not going to claim that I'm a GOOD writer. But I'm not a plagiarist, damn it.If I was just a lazy blogger, I would have created a site with no real names and a tons of Google Ads with copy-and-pasted verbatim articles. All I am is a person who loves my city and likes to share things that interest me. I never intended to upset you or steal your work and call it my own.Tell me where I can send you your favorite six-pack, and I hope we can call it water under the bridge. But I hope you realize, the more you complain about me, the more you make the amateur appear relevant. And I don’t think you really intend to do that, do you?To hell with it all, sorry I'm a hack.

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I'm an editor in the Style section at The Washington Post, and I've written about arts, entertainment, business, and technology for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Slate, Los Angeles Magazine, and other publications. I was previously deputy editor at L.A. Weekly, overseeing arts and culture coverage. I've won awards for my stories about slash fiction, magicians, and television in India, among others. I've appeared on CNN and NPR and I wrote a book about Avenue Q. I've taught journalism at Loyola Marymount University and creative nonfiction at the University of Virginia Young Writers Workshop.

I also have performed standup comedy at venues such as the Laugh Factory, Westside Theater, and ComedySportz.

To read my full bio, click here. To read more of my writing, click on the categories below. You can follow me on Twitter at @zpincusroth.

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