Monday, April 18, 2011

Possibility of Copy Cat Haunts Local Papers

Steve Kunes, a local resident who lists his occupation as "screenwriter," seems to have fooled a few people lately. A parolee, he currently is awaiting a preliminary hearing on an allegation that he swindled the former owner of Cafe Buenos Aires out of $2,000.00. Barney Brantingham reports that on another occasion Kunes allegedly tried to pass himself off as being a major player in bringing the Harry Potter novels to the screen. Now you can add the News-Press, The Independent and Noozhawk to the list of those who may have been fooled by Kunes.

Over the past year Kunes evidently submitted op-ed type columns to each of those outlets and each of the outlets published columns under Kunes' byline. Turns out some of those columns had been published before, elsewhere, under someone else's byline.

In most cases, the original articles appeared in Newsweek where they can still be found. Take a look at the July 30, 2007 Fred Lynch article about his dilemma over reaching into his pocket to pay for an expensive veterinary procedure for his cat and compare it to the July 11, 2010 column that the News-Press published under Kunes' byline.

Same thing with the News-Press article published September 5 of last year. It seems to have been heavily cribbed from this May 7, 2007 Newsweek article by Dana Chidekel.

And then there is the poignant story about junk mail that continues to arrive addressed to "Jacob," a child who has been deceased for a number of years. That article, which was attributed to Kunes, appeared in the News-Press in November of last year. A nearly identical article authored by Gary Wiener was published by Newsweek on February 19, 2007.

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Articles that Kunes submitted to the Independent and Noozhawk have since been taken down. If you land on the page where the Kunes articles were posted on the Indy's website you get this message: "This article has been removed because large portions of it were plagiarized." A visit to a Noozhawk page where one of the articles was originally posted just returns a blank page But, if you subscribe to the News-Press, or pay to access individual articles online, you can still view them at the website. Kind of ironic since the articles would certainly appear to be the intellectual property of Newsweek and the last media outlet around these parts that I can remember suing someone else for copyright infringement was, the News-Press.

I'll give Kunes credit for solving a problem that I've dealt with in the past, writer's block. But no, I'm not going to emulate him the next time I'm stumped for a story idea.

And, at the risk of sounding like a wise guy, maybe it's time the local media outlets started running any unsolicited manuscript submissions through one of those essay checkers?

In all fairness, Kunes probably isn't in a position right now to respond to the plagiarism charges and who knows, maybe there's a reasonable explanation for the copy cat articles? Like, er, uh, I don't know. He's a ghostwriter perhaps?

I think I already know what the response of the News-Press, The Independent and Noozhawk might be to that claim: "We won't be ghouled again!"
© 2011 by Craig Smith and