Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Original and The Blessed

IN TODAY's Silly, the ever-original Ross Gittins addresses intellectual property and patent litigation, an interesting subject and, a quick check suggests, all his own work. Still, one wonders if this little sentence found its way into his column by way of Freudian slip:

...people like me won't be trying very hard to come up with new ideas

(Update will be posted shortly. Washing machine is unbalanced and shaking itself to pieces.....Load rebalanced and now hung on the line.)

UPDATE: Quite a bit of mail built up in the Billabong’s letterbox over the past two weeks, but this note and associated correspondence is easily the most fascinating item to emerge so far. It was passed along by a reader who reports having contacted the Silly’s readers editor, Judy Prisk, to ask what action her newspaper would be taking in regard to Ross Gittins’ cutting and pasting. Here is her response:

...Senior editors are looking at points raised about Ross Gittins's column. You will hear from me - or someone - soon.
Thanks again for your letter,

Judy Prisk
Readers' editor

The Billabong’s correspondent waited until, eventually, he received this reply from the Silly’s deputy editor Mark Coultan. As an indication of the delusional depths to which the broadsheet Fairfax newspapers have sunk it is most revealing:

Thank you for your email regarding the recent column by Ross Gittins.
We do not agree readers would have been in any doubt that Ross’s article was about the OECD report and that he quoted from it extensively throughout, both directly and by paraphrasing.
Ross cited the OECD and the title of its report clearly at the start of his article and quoted directly from it in many places. Other markers throughout the article, including the conditional tense and references such as ‘‘the report asks’’, ‘‘we’re told that’’ and ‘‘the purpose of reports like this’’, make it absolutely clear that the report is the thrust of the entire article and that Ross is referring to it throughout.
Nevertheless we appreciate you having taken the time to draw your concerns to our attention.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Coultan
Deputy Editor

Now you might think no newspaper could do no worse than redefine plagiarism in order to establish a star columnist's innocence. But there is worse, as the Billabong's correspondent advises after checking Judy Prisk's tweets.

Remember, Prisk is the Silly's watchdog, the sentry charged with protecting its standards and enforcing its ethics.

Oh, and by the way, it is not just a Right Wing Death Bunyip who finds Prisk's performance more than somewhat lacking. Mumbrella is less than impressed as well.


  1. Welcome to the world of washing machines. Ours does the washing just fine but has decided to not tell us when it is finished. It just keeps spinning till I am sure the clothes would be in shreds if we did not become all powerfull and swith the damn thing off.A phone quote tells us over 300 for a house call and a new electronic "thing" I will time the machine and stand there ready to exert my power.

  2. Welcome back and buy a new washing machine on monday

  3. I used to profit greatly by Ross' columns when he confined himself to explaining basic economics for ignorami such as myself. Then he drank the bong water and started blethering about the National Happiness Index or some such.

  4. The Old and Unimproved DaveMarch 31, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    "Prisk is the Silly's watchdog, the sentry charged with protecting its standards."

    How dare you, Brother Bunyip, Judy is doing a bang-up job in this respect.

    Never before have my flathead fillets been so moist and succulent.

    Fairfax is fulfilling its mission statement in spades, don't you worry about that.

  5. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.April 1, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    Given Fisk's views, I can think of a few academics who would like their jobs back because of their dismissal for similiar plagiarisms. Quoting without quotation marks is a sin, Judy, a sin. You can't just bleat 'context is all'. It is not.

    Having a lovely vision of you, Prof, hanging out your washing in the garden. I wonder about your technique. We are all different in this regard.