Nationwide Theft of Humor Columns Exposed

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By: Charles Memminger | National Society of Newspaper Columnists

A few weeks ago, humor and travel writer Dave Fox was Googling some of his columns from Singapore when he discovered a column he had written in 2001 had been republished in 2005 in the Benson County Farmers Press in North Dakota with the byline “Jon Flatland,” a well-known regional newsman.

Fox dug further and discovered that just about all of the humor columns Flatland claimed to have written for two newspapers he owed — the Steele County Press in Finley, N.D., and the Griggs County Courier in Cooperstown, N.D. — and other Midwest newspapers had been plagiarized from columnists across the United States, including at least one of mine entitled “Language Laws Leave Us  Speechless,” which was published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on Nov. 8, 1999, and on Nov. 1, 2005. The identical column was published in the Steele County Press in 2006 under Flatland’s byline. The editor of the Benson County Farmer’s Press inadvertently republished my column under Flatland’s name, as well as other columns Flatland had ripped off.

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