PlagiarismGate 2009: Donkey Didn’t Plagiarize, According to Her

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Julia Allison has responded to, I don’t know, whatever, what are we talking about again?

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Julia Allison <julia@nonsociety.com>
To: [Redacted]
Sent: Thu, December 3, 2009 3:12:18 PM
Subject: Re: your newsweek story!

Actually, [redacted], that is a line that I did not write, at all.  It was not in the draft I turned into Newsweek, it was actually added by Newsweek.  So you better believe I’m pissed off.

Julia posted what she claims she turned in to Newsweek. Here they are. Discuss amongst yourselves.

NEWSWEEK End of the Decade Project “Top 10 Internet Memes” #2: Obama Girl

And below, if you want to read the (slightly longer) version I turned into Newsweek:

END OF THE DECADE PROJECT: Obama Girl
NEWSWEEK
December 3, 2009
By Julia Allison

“You seem to float onto the floor
Democratic Convention 2004
I never wanted anybody more …
cause I got a crush on Obama!”

June of 2007: the Democratic presidential nominee hadn’t yet been decided, even by the most precocious of pundits.  It was a slow news day (month, really) when a not-quite-professional YouTube music video featuring a sexy young girl singing about her love for a certain politician broke out.  Before the end of the week, over five million people had seen “Obama Girl” gyrate in a bikini next to a superimposed shot of “relatively unknown” democratic contender Barack Obama, bare-chested in the waves.

No campaign video then – or since – has made it so clear: Hillary Clinton or John Kerry, he wasn’t.

“So I put down my Kerry sign / So black and sexy, you’re so fine.”

Presidential candidate as sex symbol?  This was a new era, indeed.

This was no Swift boat, no cranky senior citizens complaining about health care.  Instead we had model/actress Amber Lee Ettinger, then 25, with long flowing black hair and curves that could make gay Republicans straight – plus an undeniably catchy tune, some arguably amusing lyrics (“You’re into border security/Let’s break this border between you and me/You can love but you can fight/You can Barack me tonight”), and, oh yeah, a bright red pair of booty … uh …  “shorts” – with OBAMA in white letters on the butt.
Such iconic sexual-political imagery is the stuff of pop culture legend.

“It’s safe to say the original video was more memorable than any of Barack Obama’s own TV ads,” says former ad-exec Ben Relles, who co-created Obama Girl with vocalist Leah Kaufmann, shooting it in a single weekend.

That it looked slightly homemade – no slick videography, with a budget of just $2k, only fanned the flames of grassroots views & media love.  More important, the message perfectly articulated – in a cheeky (figuratively & literally) manner – the cult-like almost adolescent adulation Obama fanaticism that had been building in pop culture.   “It was a metaphor for how young people were head over heels for him for the wrong reasons,” says co-creator Ben Relles.

Well … maybe not the “wrong” reasons, per se, but certainly reasons not frequently ascribed to politicians, like, for example, uh … “hotness.”

But it wasn’t just sex appeal that made Obama Girl (now viewed almost 50 million times worldwide) the defining viral video of the 2008 election.  For the first time it became possible for an individual to create and disseminate a video to an enormous audience.  “A video created in a weekend for a few hundred dollars could impact a national election,” explains Relles, “That represents a real shift in the way people can participate in politics.”

And so Obama Girl stands – clad in a tight white tee with Obama’s face – at the intersection of sex, politics and the internet, harkening a new era where elections are young and sexy and fun and underwear doesn’t just sport boring lettering like “Juicy Couture” but instead politicians’ monikers.

“Obama Girl’s in textbooks, in museums, referenced on SNL and in Michael Moore’s book,” marvels Relles.  Oh, and one more thing … “Obama’s seen it.  He emailed me.”

And this:

NEWSWEEK End of the Decade Project “Top 10 Internet Memes” #1: LonelyGirl15

And below, if you want to read the (slightly longer) version I turned into Newsweek:

END OF THE DECADE PROJECT: LonelyGirl15
NEWSWEEK
December 3, 2009
By Julia Allison

LonelyGirl15: the post-modern Hughesian icon for the Face-space generation.

****

Sixteen years old, with widely spaced brown eyes – and those crazy eyebrows! – Bree’s first video as “LonelyGirl15” on her eponymous YouTube channel had all the sophistication of a pink fuzzy diary (with over 100 million people leafing through the pages) and all the plot … well, it didn’t really have much of a plot at all. Ostensibly the clear-skinned home-schooled daughter of super religious parents, somewhere in a generic IKEA outfitted room in the heartland, she pulls her legs in close to her chest, has difficulty maintaining eye contact while glancing around nervously, and awkwardly stumbles over her lines … oops, wait – did we say lines?

Oh yeah, Bree isn’t really Bree, of course, but an unknown Kiwi actress named Jessica Rose, now 22, playing what the New York Times dubbed “an unbeatable fantasy: a beautiful girl who techy guys had something in common with.”  Bree certainly captured the eye-roll inducing late-aughts zeitgeist of semi-precocious teens spending their free time angsting into web cams and editing it on iMovie.  That made it all the more shocking for the millions of fans who finally realized they had been duped when it came out that LonelyGirl had a web cam Svengali: the 2007 budgetless (talentless?) John Hughes.

The story lines were unabashedly basic, but media outlets obsessed over the hoax, with the NY Times calling it “one of the Internet’s more elaborately constructed mysteries.” User generated content that wasn’t so user generated?  It was, as NY magazine concluded, “the birth of a new art form.” An art form with more views than the last two superbowls combined.

That the popular success didn’t necessarily translate into direct monetary success was neither here nor there: LonelyGirl15 was more proof of concept – a concept that some argued represented the future.

“Maybe this, and not some NBC shows for sale on iTunes, is the future of television—or the promised land of a new narrative form,” NY magazine wrote presciently in 2006, far before the LonelyGirl creators released the sub-three minute “In the Bedroom,” their highest viewed episode, clocking in at almost 25 million views as of October 2009.   The irony, of course, is that hits-based-upon-trickery are inherently un-replicable: fool me once, say the easily-jaded internet viewing masses, and we’ll find it creative and maybe a bit charming.  Fool me twice?  Well, uh … you can’t!

In the end, LonelyGirl’s rank in the annals of pop culture certainly won’t be for masterful story-telling (You got kissed? Whatever. Get murdered and now we have a show NBC might air).  But with the Blair Witch-esque blurring of the lines of is-she-or-isn’t-she real – the hallmark of the muddled “reality-based” entertainment in this decade – it did, at the very least, capture our attention.  And as the first episodic internet series to go mainstream, LonelyGirl showcased the web’s ability to create and sustain a viewership for content beyond cat videos and Andy Samburg.

For that alone, Bree deserves a prize.

145 COMMENTS

  1. Couldn’t get past “precocious pundits” before I had to stop. I wonder what type of editing they had to do on this article.

    • “A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts.”

      I just now realized that Julia is William Hurt in Broadcast News. Which I guess makes all of us Albert Brooks. Hooray for that, at least.

    • I couldn’t get past her inability to write a “sentence” without using ellipses, “oops” or “uh!”

      … uh … “shorts”

      Well … maybe not

      uh … “hotness.”

      thing … “Obama’s seen it.

      the plot … well,

      lines … oops, wait

      Well, uh … you can’t!

      Julia calls herself a writer and a journalist???? Um… err… oops. Uh.

      • Hahaha, I can’t remember the last time I saw an ellipsis in print. She’s totally clueless as to what real writing looks like.

  2. Judging by the length of what they posted verus the length of what they published, she either ignored the prescribed length entirely OR they thought what she wrote was crap OR both.

    I go with both.

    Silly donkey.

      • So it seems tom me that Foolia worked her little heart out to craft these two turdlets above. Her editor, upon reading them, and after the initial projectile vomiting, decided to just paraphrase a couple of paragraphs from WikiPedia and call it a day. Because editing this poopsicle she calls writing into something presentable would have taken all week.

      • So she’s claiming that Newsweek basically inserted an entire paragraph after cutting her piece down by 80%? And she was completely unaware? Sorry, that sounds fishy to me.

        Maybe if she could learn to honour word counts and could write worth a shit she wouldn’t have to worry about editors chopping her pieces down to one remaining original sentence and pretty much rewriting it.

      • I don’t know. I don’t care enough to suss it out. I am not a writer; apparently from Jacy down there this happens all the time, and copying a wiki isn’t stealing. I don’t care enough about Julia to sort it out any further.

      • There is an infinitesimally small chance that Newsweek did a cut and paste job but it is highly, highly unlikely. Subs are used to re-writing people’s work, so any info they may have gleaned from Wikipedia would definitely have been re-written, not copied.

        As someone who works in the media I don’t believe her.

    • It’s not unusual for a big journalistic entity like Newsweek to take something you’ve sent them and drastically rewrite it without notifying you. Especially if you’re a random nobody, which JA is. They wouldn’t do it to Tom Wolfe or James Carville or Megan McCain, but they’d do it to someone like JA.

      And so, I hate to say it, but I believe her.

      • Don’t they know who she is???

        If she’s going to bop around acting like she is hot journalistic shit, and so important that she is in Newsweek, she can’t throw her hands up, blink her eyes, and pull the “but I’m a nobody they changed it and didn’t tell me!” card.

        Which is it? Is she Miss Bigtime Journo writing for the big time news mag? Or just a little girl nobody trying to be a writer, and being poorly used? Which is it?

        Like I said, I kind of don’t think this is a big enough deal for me to skip my next scheduled nap for.

    • PP, I worked for a major magazine (briefly, but) and editors adding several lines of their own copy is somewhat normal. Doesn’t always happen (especially if it’s written correctly in the first place) but I don’t think Julia’s lying here.

  3. Good move. Post publicly that Newsweek insterted the dodgy-maybe-plagarism line.
    And that you’re pissed off!
    Did someone time that? That may have been the shortest newsweek.com career ever! Way to go champ!

  4. In other words: “Newsweek plagiarised on my behalf!”?
    I would love to leave a witty comment, but unfortunately I am too busy lmao.

  5. Well this would explain why Newsweek is sensitive.

    I have some familiarity with this whole topic — long story — and I will say that there is some debate about the use of Wikipedia. It is an online encyclopedia, so many argue its content is fair game for lifting. I am not saying I agree, I am just saying it’s a pretty common debate in both MSM and digital newsrooms.

    And I actually don’t think this is a slam-dunk case of plagiarism. I think someone read it, might have been influenced by it, and had it in mind when they rewrote the lame-ass original that JA handed in. She really can’t stop herself from using “oops,” can she?

    Also, JA is a goddamned jackass for responding like that. Way to burn bridges, Donkey.

    She simply needed to say: “The piece I handed in is quite different from the one that appeared on the site and I am asking them about it.”

    • I sort of feel bad now about emailing the Newsweek editor and posting his replies on the other thread. I never really thought about how Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and copying from it is a gray area. I guess I was just annoyed because she used to crowd source material in 2007 and then publish the responses on her blog and those same responses would wind up verbatim in her TONY column. It may not be plagiarism EXACTLY but it sure lazy and she is getting paid for someone else’s writing.

      • I think there may be confusion over academic plagiarism vs. copyright plagiarism. In academics, it’s a moral question about whether the student did his own work. Outside of that, it’s a legal question about what someone can sue over. No one can sue over wikipedia, because they declare the content to be public domain.

      • Lifting from wiki is not a gray area. It’s not done by ethical journalists. Period. It SHOULD be highly embarrassing for Newsweek and editor devin or “dg” no matter whether someone at the publication inserted those borrowed lines or Julia Allison did it herself. The thing that horrifies me most is that the editor thinks it’s A-OK, business as usual. It is not. Certainly not at the major metropolitan daily where I work.

        However, if Newsweek.com personnel are indeed the source of the wiki lift that was in turn, apparently, lifted from another publication, that would account for the aggressive pushback on the part of editor devin/dg. It’s even more of an embarrassing black mark if someone on the staff did the cribbing.

      • Though, I guess the high-profile journalism plagiarism cases involved the moral dimension, so… I take that back.

      • Given this new insight into Newsweek’s lack of basic journalistic standards, it’s no surprise that they hired Donkey to “write” some pieces for them.

        Shit for shit.

      • “Cap Goes Wild”….

        After emailing Jacy about this myself, I now realize that there is a HUGE difference between what academic and media/journalism entities define as plagiarism. I’m in agreement.

      • Whether or not this is against the law (it’s not) doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that it’s not cool (which it is, meaning, it’s not cool). Chris Anderson (the guy who put JA on the cover of Wired) got into similar trouble this year for copying chunks of Wikipedia for his book on “free.” The fact that JA’s article was about online memes–which copying from Wikipedia sort of is–makes all of this rather meta; unfortunately, it’s also wrong.

      • Agreed, Lars. Plagiarism or not, it’s lazy, hacky and bad form. All around embarrassing for whoever did it – Julia or the editor.

        Although, the most embarrassing thing is Julia’s “original” articles – which I am guessing she is posting to defend herself? But good god, are those steaming piles of shit!! I’d be more embarrassed over those than of accusations of cribbing from Wikipedia.

      • I know there’s been some debate as to whether the content on Wikipedia should automatically count as common knowledge–and thus not need to be sourced–but I don’t think lifting directing words and phrases from anything, ever, without attribution has been considered anything but plagiarism.

        I stand by my theory that the Donkey put up these “unedited” versions after strategically removing the offending parts to cover her own ass. See guys, Newsweek did it! Meanwhile, Newsweek will not care enough about this to set the record straight, and would probably rather avoid talking about it altogether. Thus, the Donkey revisionist history goes unquestioned.

  6. So now SHE is accusing Newsweek editors of plagiarism? And asking readers to take her blog posts at face value – that they were the exact drafts turned into Newsweek? This just gets better and better.

    Enjoy your vacation, donkey!

  7. WHOA. Ha. In her “version”, there isn’t even a mention of the “evolution” of the Lonelygirl15 storylines from normal stuff into the bizarro. The editor just added it in totally (or JA removed it from “her” version totally).

    • She also spells Andy Samberg’s name wrong, which I believe is an unforgivable sin.

      Also, thank you WordPress for spell check in your comments.

      • spell check in comments? Did not know – thanks – here I am criticizing Donkey’s writing and misspell every second word.

      • “Red Line of Shame.” I like that. And I’m so spoiled with spellcheck I couldn’t spell “necessarily” if you pointed a gun to my head. The only reason it’s spelled correctly just then is because I kept adding and subtracting C’s and S’ until the red line went away. Works every time!

      • LVNT: You can right-click over the misspelled word and it will give you some suggestions.

      • This is only half-relevant, but you reminded me of one of my favorite editor jokes: “That squiggly red line is not Microsoft Word’s means of complimenting you on your originality.”

      • Red Line of Shame reminds me of my twenty-something self in DC trying to catch the last metro, drunk and not getting any action. Or having gotten some some action and trying to male the earliest escape the next morning. Funtimes indeed!

      • and this is where this fabled wordpress spellcheck function isn’t working out for me- actually I’m unable to find or activate it.
        “make” not “male” though not exclusive…

  8. That would also explain the editor’s dismissive tone to us. They themselves cribbed wiki and are claiming its okay because it’s been cribbed elsewhere. And that it’s not plagarism cause its common – or “banal”,effing newspaper word.

  9. I’ve gone from being pissy to mildly entertained by how this is playing out. Donkey has a truly toxic touch.

  10. I think she is a fucking liar. Why don’t we see what the Newsweek editor has to say about her accusation?

    • Why is she always trying to sound smarter than she is? She forces these bullshit, word salad phrases into her articles and they make no sense. Just friggin stop.

  11. This is why I get so bored with her. This is now a convoluted mess that I don’t have the energy to sort out. It’s not plagiarism because it’s from wiki, she didn’t even write it Newsweek did, blah blah. She’s not worth the work it would take to figure it out, to me.

    • Exactly. She gets so tangled up in her own web of lies, backpedaling and half truths that it’s incredibly difficult follow or care about following. Bottom line – she’s been caught in yet another lie and is spinning so hard she makes everyone around her dizzy.

    • Here! Here! It’s impossible to tell what is not her fault and what is because normally EVERYTHING is her fault. I don’t think she’s lying here but I do think it was incredibly stupid to email someone about how pissed she is. BURNING BRIDGES!

  12. I’m actually starting to believe that it may truly be exhausting to be her, spending all day chasing her own lies down and then reading here obsessively to see what people are saying. How boring and exhausting at the same time. Sometimes I get bored of myself for being here. Alas, I cannot turn away. 🙁 sad

    • Ha! I was basically saying the same thing above. It’s exhausting trying to sort it all out and when she’s a known pathological liar – is it even worth it? Hmm.. either Newsweek lied or she did. Hmmm… who am I more inclined to believe???

  13. And not to forget she’s on Hawaii (Hawai’i, forgot the correct spellling, please excuse my ignorance) of all places. Would I have better things to do than setting my paragraph writing for a major publication straight? You bet I would. She even ruins her own getaways.

    • And right when she was about to disconnect from the internet and go offline! Poor little donkey! She’ll surely need another vacation after being SO SO EXHAUSTED from sorting out this mess!

    • I was going to avoid Julia this week because Hawai’i is one of my favorite places on earth, and for the first time, I was feeling a genuine pang of envy over JAB’s life. Knowing that she can’t stop herself from getting online and going into spin doctor mode makes me feel much better.

  14. You know, the editors wouldn’t have had to totally rewrite those pieces (and possibly crib Wiki content) if Julia had turned in halfway coherent articles in the first place. Both of her “original” articles are complete garbage and about three times too long. If she stuck to her word count and could write worth a shit in the first place, she wouldn’t be in this mess.

    Again: donkey sucks as a “journalist.”

    • good point, shamoolia. If she didn’t crib it herself (and I still wonder about that, because she has shown herself capable) she brought it upon herself by inviting a major rewrite.

      It all reminds me of a famous journalist-to-editor complaint I used to quote a lot: “I didn’t have time to write short.”

      The point being that it takes discipline and clear thinking to express yourself succinctly. It’s easier to just spew out a lot of fuzzy, flabby verbiage to meet a deadline than to organize really well and then hone, hone, hone.

      • I went back and looked at her original Obama Girl article again. Holy shit. The overuse of ellipses and “uh” made me want to stab my screen with a red pen.

        I can’t believe she actually turned that shit into Newsweek – and proudly posted it as her “original” version. How embarrassing.

    • Agreed. I had a hard time believing she wrote the published piece. Not that it was great by any means but aspects of it were superior to her usual stuff. Reading what she actually submitted it makes a lot more sense now. I didn’t read the Obama Girl one but the original Lonely Girl piece was horrible and didn’t read like professional writing at all. Looks like Newsweek took the few salvagable parts, added on a bit of their own, cut the thing by about 2/3 and called it a day.

      I’m also chiming in with the others who said changing some of her writing and adding a new phrase is not that unusual in the magazine business. Although the sentence in question was more than I’d normally expect to see added to a writer’s original work.

    • It’s her hallmark. Long, meandering articles that have to be hacked through with a machete before they are somewhere approaching print worthy. You would think her reputation as a long winded hosebag would proceed her by now and she would cease getting work over more talented writers.

  15. Well, if they really did insert that section, I can understand why. Her version posted here provides no explanation of what went on in Bree’s videos, and why people felt duped. The part about her mysterious disappearance is pretty crucial to understanding why people were so upset when it all turned out to be a hoax. Her article is just flat out uninformative.

  16. Look folks although I have written tech articles for such places as IBM DeveloperWorks the editorial process is the same..

    The claim that she was unaware is a bold face lie..as we all get the finished copy back as part of that process

    • Not necessarily. I make my living as a writer for consumer mags and it’s rare that editors will send my re-worked stuff back to me before it goes to press. I get calls from fact-checkers about my articles before they run, however, and sometimes they’ll say thing like: ” Where did you get that monkey’s can read Tolstoy”? And I’ll tell them to take it up with the idiot editor who inserted that claim ’cause it didn’t come from me.

      The main magazine I write for–which has a circulation of two-millionish–edits the snot out of everything that’s turned in by everyone. Senior writers have been known to lose their shit from time to time; I mostly keep my mouth shut because I’m the youngest person on the masthead.

      • That is my experience as well.

        Someone really fucked up a story I wrote once and I almost lost it when it appeared in the magazine under my byline. I never got a single call from anyone other than the fact-checker, no one ever asked me if the “facts” inserted into the piece were correct … they were not, they had mixed up two entirely different people.

        So it does happen.

      • I would guess it would depend upon how were getting paid I was through a 3rd party agency thus that is why I got the final copies back as part of the process of getting paid

  17. Now she’s celebrating and patting herself on the back that her pieces have been posted?

    “Hurray, the Newsweek pieces are up!”
    (with a screen shot of Newsweek’s twitter link to her stories)

    So is she pissed at them or not? Did they crib content or not? If I were Julia, I’d make it clear how I feel, rather than just vaguely post the “original” articles as they were submitted to Newsweek – because that’s about as verifiable as her “reader emails.”

  18. i can’t believe i’m saying this, but i actually believe julia. some low-level, junior editor was probably charged with turning the drivel she submitted into something clear and cohesive but didn’t want to spend the time/effort required to do so and said editor turned to everyone’s favorite source for plagiarism, wikipedia. this happens all the time, folks. newsweek has gotten lamer/lazier over the years, so i’m not surprised.

    • So you believe Julia Allison – a known liar and plagiarist? Sorry… something still doesn’t add up for me.

      • yeah, i believe her in this instance. trust me, it kills me to say that. i also freely admit i could easily be wrong. in any case, i don’t think we’ll ever find out the truth. both julia and newsweek will sweep this little incident under the rug as it is mutually embarrassing for all parties involved.

    • disappointing, if true. and I concur with the poster who says that in academic settings, it is never considered okay to lift writing just because it is in the public domain. It’s a question of professional standards, not legality.

    • I agree with this totally. And about the Wikipedia stuff as well — I have seen paras directly lifted from Wikipedia in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, a lot of places.

      • As someone who deals with this issue on both the professional writing and academic side… THIS IS PLAGIARISM. I am in complete agreement with Jacy that it is very common and that some people do have weird rationalizations they make about lifting public domain stuff – but that does not mean it is not Plagiarism. It just means that plagiarism is fairly common among sloppy writers and editors. If you have access to turn it in software it is a fun exercise to submit articles from magazines or major papers like the times and see how many hits you get…

  19. Let me get this straight……Julia is currently spending her Hawaiian vacation throwing her new editors at Newsweek under the bus instead of morning shagging her man friend in the Pacific.

    Talk about counter-productive.

    Hipster lawyer: Let’s fuck
    Donkey: Not until I update my blog with the rough drafts of paragraph long articles I wrote for Newsweek to silence all the haterz out there!!!
    Hipster lawyer: How long will this take?
    Donkey: You can’t put a time limit on attempts at vindication!!!!

  20. HUGE mistake. Editors don’t want to have to rewrite the final copy, but if there’s no time for the writer to rewrite the piece, or they just keep missing the mark (wrong tone, bad facts, whatever), then someone else will. It happens all the time, and like someone else said, it especially happens to unknown writers. What you don’t do is publicly broadcast the revisions, attempt to shame your employer/editor, or shift blame. No fucking way is she going to get a gig with them again.

  21. Also, in the academic world, taking from wikipedia or any other encyclopedia most definitely does not fall in an ethical gray area. Hell, when I was getting my masters in history, we were told by just about every professor that even citing wikipedia as a source was a big no-no. Now that was about 5 years ago, and wikipedia has cleaned up its reputation a bit since then, and I know these days it is considered a reputable source. But you still cannot take something, word for word, from anywhere, unless you properly surround it with quotation marks and cite it. I just don’t see how anyone can claim this is a gray area.

    • I don’t think wikipedia is considered a reliable source. It’s still full of errors. In fact, look at the Julia Allison article.

      • Oh for sure, I still wouldn’t cite it as a source in anything I wrote, but I know universities tend to be much more lax about it these days. I took an undergraduate history course last year at the University of Texas, and students were most definitely allowed to use wiki as a source, and the prof even read from wikipedia during class.

      • Even today, I’d only cite Wikipedia as a source in a humorous context, and not in any serious article.

    • At least in here in the UK, the majority of serious universities strongly discourages students from using wikipedia as a source.

    • It’s completely the opposite here in Australia. Even first year undergraduate history students are not allowed to cite wikipedia. If you do, you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose at least 25% of your mark.

    • Eh, perhaps I’m wrong in stating that universities are more lax about using Wikipedia. I was shocked that it was allowed in that undergrad class, and assumed it wasn’t unusual, based on other students’ comments, and the fact that the very young prof put up a wiki page in class.

  22. This happened with Time Out. She posted the “unedited” version of one of her final columns (or maybe THE final one?) along with a note from Momsers saying they’d done hatchet job on it. Needless to say, that was the end of that gig. DONKEY NEVER LEARNS!

    • That was one of my favorite Donkey moments. “My mommy likes my writing even if you don’t. Stupid, smelly, TONY editor.”

  23. I’m going to bow out of this discussion at this time. I’m not a writer and have no experiences in that field, so I feel my further input is invalid. I’ll leave it to Jacy and JP to sort it out, since they know of what they speak.

  24. Ok, so I’ve been lurking for awhile now, and actually spent an entire day at work (cough cough) or something reading the archives for this awesome site, and I have a question (forgive me if this is common knowledge) – if they had to rewrite her garbage so much, why bother even attaching her name to it? I couldn’t bear to read her crap that she allegedly submitted to do a comparison, but the Newsweek pieces seemed short and to the point. Did she make a point? I mean, why bother with her name at all?

    BTW, I love you guys

    • Maybe Newsweek just wanted the page views. They know she sucks and people hate her. They may have expected people to log on to their site and just to say “OMG WHY ARE YOU EMPLOYING JULIA” but they probably weren’t expecting Plagiarismgate 09. Who knows? Maybe Newsweek.com is so desperate that they believe any attention is good attention these days. The editor was really quick to respond to me even after I though the whole thing was over.

    • Most places like to have a byline attached to any item.

      What they should have done is sent the revised version back to her to get her OK. If she hated it but they refused to change it, she could have asked to have them remove her byline.

  25. Whoa–maybe she will get Dadster to sue Newsweek! That will take the heat off our sorry (fat, old, poor, cat-lady) asses resulting from the landmark anonymous commenting ruling.

    • Dadser Lawyer to the rescue with an LOLsuit! Suing Newsweek for rewriting Julia Baugher’s shitty articles and being FORCED to plagiarize in the process! They had to do it! It was the only fate worse than running them in their original form!

  26. Wow, I think I understand the plagiarism now. Some poor underpaid editor got saddled with the huge, rambling pieces (weeks late, of course) and had to do a patch job. I can even believe that she might not have seen the finished product beforehand. What I can’t believe however, is that she gets $4 a word for writing like a teenage girl. I’ve seen Facebook updates with better grammar. I’m willing to give anyone a pass for their idiosyncratic writing style on a personal blog (even if it is their ‘business’) but when you are writing for other outlets you change your style to fit their tone. You don’t just bray on in your usual manner unless your style is so well-branded that people pay you for it (Ted Casablanca is an example).

    She’s got no future as a freelance writer, not just because she can’t write but because she continually breaks the top two rules of freelance writing: don’t bore the reader and don’t piss off the editor.

    More and more news outlets are relying on content that is cheaply farmed out and SEO-based which is bad enough but at least there is some hope that quality rises to the top. This girl gets into Newsweek purely on the basis of her strategic relationships and then has no appreciate of the shot that she’s been given. Reminds me of the brilliant RBNS book cover, oh the bridges, you’ll burn.

  27. If Julia is so “pissed” at Newsweek for hacking up her articles and inserting cribbed Wiki content, then why is she proudly linking to them on her twitter and blog?

    Twitter:
    “My stories for Newsweek’s End of the Decade Project are up! Here they are: http://tinyurl.com/yzoa3ph & http://tinyurl.com/ylbgwhw
    31 minutes ago from web”

    Blog:
    “Hurray, the Newsweek pieces are up!”
    (with a screen shot of Newsweek’s twitter link to her stories)

  28. Reading Julia’s “writing” is like trying to swim through Jello. And what kind of an insane person uses an offensive line like “Amber Lee Ettinger, then 25, with long flowing black hair and curves that could make gay Republicans straight” in this day and age? I pity that editor.

    It also seems very ill-advised to self-publish your original versions of articles that have been edited and published by a major publication. The only takeaway message from that is that you don’t agree with their editorial decisions. Don’t they also own the copyright to those articles?

  29. I kind of thought she was saying she was pissed at the people accusing her of plagiarism, not pissed at Newsweek.

      • Me too. I think that would be a brilliant business plan for her actually, much more successful than her current one. Imagine if she accepted crowdsourced money from people paying her to stay off the Internet and all forms of mass media. The more money came in the longer she’d stay off. Lifetime profits are virtually guaranteed!

  30. The only part of herself that she feels comfortable posting pics of at the beach now is her worst feature….her feet. Julia, you don’t look awful in a bathing suit but your feet look awful in everything.

    • Sausage toes!! And those aren’t white sand beaches. Hawaii is made of volcanic rock and doesn’t have white sand beaches. Dumb donkey.

      • “White sand beaches in Hawaii are composed mainly of the the shells from sea creatures.”

        * plagiarized from Google Search

        **sorry to be so service-y

      • I’m going to assume that she’s there alone, that Hipster Lawyer’s comment re: expecting to ‘see her in plaid bikinis’ alludes to the hundreds of photos that he assumed would be posted …

        I’m not in w/ the consensus that she’s there for work though; I’m thinking this trip was some gimme that she’s taking advantage of.

  31. The pieces are hilarious, coming from Julia. That delightful supercilious tone towards people who succeeded spectacularly at the same game she tries to play! Sexual content, tut-tut! Not our Julia, condom-dress wearer and Santa’s little bend-over helper! “Semi-precocious teens spending their free time angsting into web cams”. Not our Julia! She is fully precocious and never would spill her angst to her camera in the middle of the night!

    Exhibitionist one minute, prim suburban housewife the next! She’s a hoot.

  32. I’m an editor. If a writer turned in a piece to me with that many ellipses, “uh, er, oops”-es, and that fucking far over word count? You can bet that I would rewrite their shit so that it didn’t sound like it was written by an amateur, and have done with it. And never use that writer again.

    Newsweek was stupid to insert something that’s way too close to a Wikipedia article into that piece—I mean, fucking DUH, Newsweek—but she turned in terrible copy. So, really, the blame lies with both parties.

  33. I posted this comment (a line-by-line breakdown of a sizable percentage of the errors in the Lonelygirl15 piece) on the previous RBNS article; please skip if you’ve seen it already!

    * * *

    Writers as lousy as Julia Allison should no more display their unedited work online than they would their cellulite. An incomplete rundown of the errors in her submitted work:

    – Excessive use of ellipses (usually indicative of a poor comprehension of the rules of punctuation)

    – Missing sequential comma in “clear-skinned home-schooled daughter”

    – “super religious parents” should be “super-religious,” following the adjective-adjective rule of hyphenation

    – Ditto “IKEA-outfitted”

    – First sentence is a run-on and needs to be recast

    – Sudden shift from past tense to present (“Bree’s first video… had all the sophistication,” to “she pulls her legs in close to her chest.”)

    – Use of collective first-person pronoun not in line with Newsweek stylesheet

    – Starting para with “Oh yeah.” Even if this weren’t overly familiar for a newsweekly, there should be a hyphen following “Oh.” Of course, she ended her first para with “oops!” This is not your blog, Julia. This is motherfucking Newsweek

    New York Times should be in itals

    – “eye-roll inducing” again is missing a hyphen (she gets this right on “late-aughts” and “semi-precocious,” which just aggravates me more. She knows the rule exists, sort of, but not how to apply it)

    – “…it came out that LonelyGirl had a web cam Svengali: the 2007 budgetless (talentless?) John Hughes.” This states that John Hughes, who was apparently possessed of no money and no talent, was the mastermind behind Lonelygirl15. This could not be more wrong

    – “NY Times” should be abbreviated NYT, since “Times” was written out earlier in the piece. New York Magazine needs to be written out and italed. She didn’t even cap “Magazine!” Holy shit, I would die of shame.

    – “An art form with more views than the last two superbowls combined.” Where to start? Sentence fragment. Super Bowl should be capped and rendered as two separate words. Finally, she’s comparing apples to oranges: Lonelygirl15’s cumulative viewcount with the viewership of a single televised event.

    – “The irony, of course, is that hits-based-upon-trickery are inherently un-replicable…” OH THAT’S WHERE ALL THE MISSING HYPHENS WENT: WHERE NO SANE PERSON WOULD PUT THEM. How fuck!

    – “Fool me twice? Well, uh … you can’t!” I never thought I would see a variant on this phrase dumber than GWB’s “Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again.” I was wrong. She also switches from the collective first person (we) to the singular (me).

    – “In the end…” No journalist with more than a week’s experience should preface a concluding paragraph with this phrase.

    – Finally, she spells Andy Samberg’s name wrong. Was Google broken?

    There, I spent 400% more time on this article than Julia Allison did. You’re welcome, Newsweek. By the way, I am an out-of-work writer who doesn’t charge four bucks a word. I will literally accept payment in Trader Joe’s gift cards.

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