Columnist expresses regret for negligent transgressions

I recently had to leave my position as a Mustang Daily movie columnist due to recent mistakes that were made, and I will in no way try to convey the fact that they were not my own mistakes, because they were. This student-run newspaper has provided me with something that I never thought I would have the opportunity to do at a school like Cal Poly: work with movies. Movies are my true passion, and although I am not, at the moment, making them, viewing them or writing about them on a weekly basis, this job has provided true joy for me, especially when my articles spark conversations on campus with people I have never met.

The Mustang Daily informed me about some claims that were being made about my articles, and I wanted to take this opportunity to address those claims. It has been said that all of my articles are not original pieces, and that I plagiarized the works of the best movie critic around, Roger Ebert. It may make more sense if I explained the process I go through and the methods I utilize prior to even viewing a film. For years even before my days as a college student, I have compared my own thoughts to those of Ebert, along with other experts like Peter Travers and David Edelstein. Before even deciding to watch a certain movie, I read dozens of reviews online, and it’s no surprise that the man I most consistently follow is Ebert. It has been said that certain ideas that I have conveyed in my articles are way too similar to statements Ebert has made, and I completely agree and apologize for that. I assure you this was in no way intentional, and while my statements were made in different ways, it in no way surprises me to learn that people were angry at what they were reading — especially those who enjoy reading the columns of popular movie critics. While not all of my articles have certain sentences that resemble those of Ebert, too many of them share similar thoughts, almost always in the introductions.

Roger Ebert is truly an idol of mine, and one of my dreams in life would be to follow in his footsteps and one day have a column in a major newspaper, along with bringing back the weekly movie review television shows that Ebert originated with his partner Gene Siskel. He is truly one of the last people in the world that I would wish to offend. While I stand by the fact that my articles are my own, it is clear that too many of my ideas were excessively influenced by Mr. Ebert. I should have been smarter about comparing my articles with those that I read prior to viewing films, and should have never sent any in to the Mustang Daily until I was sure there would be no confusion. I again, truly apologize for that. To those individuals who took the time to realize and address this problem, I commend you. I am in no way angry or bitter towards you because all you were doing was attempting to ensure the integrity of this publication, which in turn reflects our university.

The Mustang Daily is an extremely impressive project that provides students with entertaining columns every day, it is a privilege I think we take for granted some times. While I would love nothing more than to continue writing for the paper, this mistake could not have gone without any consequences, and I understand that. I would like to thank the Mustang Daily for giving me the opportunity to call myself a true “writer” for around a year and half. It was a job that really did provide me with a lot pride and self-confidence.

  • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

    A longer response from the Coalition for the Restoration of Alex Kaplan in the Cal Poly Community is forthcoming, but let me just say a few things:

    1. Having taken the time to read all of your reviews and compare them to Ebert’s, I am positively offended that you think you can pass this off as an honest mistake. You claim that “not all” but “too many” of “Movie Buzz” articles contained thoughts stolen from Ebert’s column, but this is demonstrably false. Unfortunately, while the Mustang Daily’s decision to summarily and surreptitiously pull all of your articles from its website leaves me with the inability to demonstrate my findings for all of your articles, I have catalogued the majority of them at the official Coalition website (http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com) and I encourage anyone interested in uncovering the truth to independently confirm my findings. Make no mistake: these offenses are not “negligent” but very deliberate.

    2. There is a very clear pathology to your writing process, and it isn’t the one you describe in this mealy-mouthed apology. Tell me if any of this sounds familiar: you copy and paste Ebert’s review of the movie you saw over the weekend into a word processor, you remove some of Ebert’s original insight and replace it with your own brand of pedestrian, heavy-handed analysis (e.g. “Comic book movies have seen a resurgence of success in recent years,” “Some people will like this film, some will love this film and many will most definitely hate this film,” or “There are a number of things I like about this film.”), you take a thesaurus to other parts of his review, change sentence structure a bit and play around with the line breaks. Having done your job as a “‘true’ writer”, your work is fit to be published in this “extremely impressive project.”

    3. Perhaps we could accept your explanation if the plagiarism were confined to one column, but in your dozens of columns for the past year and a half you have shamelessly and unrelentingly stolen from the mind of a goddamned cancer survivor. Now with this open letter, we get to add “unapologetically” to that list.

    4. Fuck you.

    • u

      you have way too much time on your hands

  • Wesley Day

    Absolutely disgusting. I cannot believe that the editorial staff would allow Mr. Petrosian to publish such an ‘apology’ in response to the plagiarism scandal; In fact, I’m not so sure that you can call what is written here an apology at all! In the previous article (“Mustang Daily apologizes for columnist’s plagiarism”) the paper itself states that the events that were occurring were, without a doubt, plagiarism of Roger Ebert’s works. And yet in this letter, Alex does not acknowledge his plagiarism, opting instead to sidestep the issue as being ‘…in no way intentional.’ In that same line, he states ‘…my statements were made in different ways…’ Hello, Earth to Mr. Petrosian? WE CALL THAT PLAGIARISM.

    This entire letter is rife with labyrinthine language of which has the sole intention of providing damage control to Mr. Petrosian’s ‘reputation,’ despite the lack thereof. For being written by somebody who states he has such a high respect for Roger Ebert, this paper, and journalism at large, this letter contains absolutely none. Alex Petrosian, if your words have any semblance of truth to them, I suggest you immediately rewrite this letter to be more clear and concise in accepting your fault, rather then trying to protect your own sorry hide. And to the editors of this paper, I sincerely hope that you do not let this pathetic excuse for an apology stand, as allowing this to stand as his official apology would be (excuse me for the vulgarity, as it is the only proper way to express how negative this action would be) a _fucking travesty._

  • Wesley Day

    Absolutely disgusting. I cannot believe that the editorial staff would allow Mr. Petrosian to publish such an \’apology\’ in response to the plagiarism scandal; In fact, I\’m not so sure that you can call what is written here an apology at all! In the previous article (\"Mustang Daily apologizes for columnist\’s plagiarism\") the paper itself states that the events that were occurring were, without a doubt, plagiarism of Roger Ebert\’s works. And yet in this letter, Alex does not acknowledge his plagiarism, opting instead to sidestep the issue as being \’…in no way intentional.\’ In that same line, he states \’…my statements were made in different ways…\’ Hello, Earth to Mr. Petrosian? WE CALL THAT PLAGIARISM.

    This entire letter is rife with labyrinthine language of which has the sole intention of providing damage control to Mr. Petrosian\’s \’reputation,\’ despite the lack thereof. For being written by somebody who states he has such a high respect for Roger Ebert, this paper, and journalism at large, this letter contains absolutely none. Alex Petrosian, if your words have any semblance of truth to them, I suggest you immediately rewrite this letter to be more clear and concise in accepting your fault, rather then trying to protect your own sorry hide. And to the editors of this paper, I sincerely hope that you do not let this pathetic excuse for an apology stand, as allowing this to stand as his official apology would be (excuse me for the vulgarity, as it is the only proper way to express how negative this action would be) a _fucking travesty._

  • HarryPotterRulez91

    It is cool that the MD let you publish one more piece to explain yourself/say goodbye.

    It is not cool that it is a piece of shit.

  • jack

    in a perfect world, you would be the one who lost your ability to speak and a chunk of your jaw due to papillary thyroid cancer.

    if you blatantly steal from ebert, you should have to suffer the same health problems, too, you piece of shit.

    • Wanda

      That’s kinda harsh =(

    • Wanda

      Kinda harsh =(

  • Charles

    Fuggity fuck this fake ass apology.

  • Anonymous Bullshit

    What kind of bogus ass alex kaplanesque apology is this.

  • SenzuriChampion

    “Before even deciding to watch a certain movie, I read dozens of reviews online…”

    Maybe this should be a tip off that film critique isn’t for you, eh?

  • Anonymous

    Man, these CRAKCPC folks have turned nasty. They have some valid points on this issue, but the level of vitriolic hatred from them is surprising and disturbing. Sure, Alex Petrosian should have cited his sources. Sure, the Mustang Daily gravely mishandled the situation by removing the offending articles from their website. Most of the responses I’ve seen to this piece are downright childish. “Fuck You” is not an argument in any sense of the word; it does not advance any meaningful idea.

  • Anonymous

    Petrosian,

    I enjoyed reading your articles and am saddened that they weren’t completely your own. I hope this controversy doesn’t diminish your passion for movies and journalism. Surely you have learned a valuable lesson about plagiarism and I hope you don’t take some of the criticisms above too harshly. I love ya man.

    As for Alex Kaplan and his supporters, go fuck yourselves. Bringing other people down is no way to improve your image. It makes you look worse. If you really are interested in being a leader you should suspend your hatred and begin a clean campaign with some new ideas. After reading the article MD wrote about you I though you were an idiot, now I think you are an insane jackass.

  • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

    The idea that the issue here is that Petrosian “should have cited his sources,” or that he merely submitted reviews which “weren’t completely [his] own” is insane. These reviews weren’t even half his, let alone a tenth. The issue here is that he blatantly plagiarized Roger Ebert in every article he ever wrote for the Mustang Daily, and now that he’s been caught he won’t even ‘fess to it.

    How stupid does he think we are? First he tries to pass off Roger Ebert’s oeuvre on his own, and now he expects us to accept this explanation. Is it conceivable that he reads “dozens of reviews,” but ultimately always converges on the same reviewer’s work time and time again? I would argue that it’s not.

    Before I do a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison of Petrosian’s “Adventureland” review, I want to say that Alex Kaplan has no direct involvement in any of this. I don’t know where you get off slandering Kaplan’s reputation based on mostly-anonymous comments on this website, and the plainly biased Jessica Barba “face off” article. And if you want to talk about “bringing other people down,” where is your criticism of Barba or Storelli or the literally thousands of people who joined the derivative “Can this jug of Muscle Milk get more fans than Alex Kaplan?” Facebook group?

    “Adventureland” analysis continued in comments below.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

      First paragraph of Petrosian: “It’s almost common knowledge that if you are in your teen years or early 20s and have a crappy summer job, the only thing you are truly accomplishing is daydreaming about attractive co-workers, which you hopefully have. I mean, what else are you expected to do after dealing with annoying customers for hours on end in terrible working conditions? Director Greg Mottola’s “Adventureland” is a sweet, funny and smart comedy dealing with the “adventures” many of us have experienced while working in jobs we initially can’t stand but later cherish through the emergence of surprising and desirable circumstances.”

      First paragraph of Ebert: “It is a truth of twentysomethings that if you have a crappy summer job with other twentysomethings, the way to take your mind off work is daydreaming of sex with your workmates. You are trapped there together eight or 10 hours a day for three months, right, so what else is there to make you dance to unheard melodies?”

      What he kept: The first two sentences of Petrosian’s introduction are plainly identical in content and in form to those of Ebert’s review.

      What he added: An entire sentence!

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

      First paragraph of Petrosian: “The film’s main character, James, is a recent college graduate with high hopes for the future. He’s excited about an upcoming backpacking trip with friends and a move to New York. Unfortunately, bad news from his parents forces James to make an extremely resentful change of plans. His father, with terrible timing, has just lost his job, placing an unfair burden on James to find work for the summer. He stumbles upon a sketchy Pittsburgh amusement park called Adventureland (based on the same real sketchy amusement park) where all of the rides seem as if they are on the brink of disaster and eating a corndog results in a feeling of nausea.”

      First paragraph of Ebert: “Take James. Here he is all set to move to New York, and his dad loses his job and he’s forced to take a job at a shabby Pittsburgh amusement park. All of the rides look secondhand, all of the games are rigged, and all of the prizes look like surplus. Your job is to encourage customers even more luckless than you are to throw baseballs at targets that are glued down, while inflamed with hopes of taking home a Big Ass Panda. That’s what Bobby the owner calls them when he instructs you, “Nobody ever wins a Big Ass Panda.””

      What he kept: The entire characterization of “James.”

      What he added: He replaced the “Big Ass Panda” with a corndog. Outstanding.

      • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

        Pardon me: these “first”s should read “second”. Apologies.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

      Third paragraph of Petrosian: “Greg Mottola, who is also responsible for one of the most notoriously hilarious movies of our generation, “Superbad,” returns to direct a story about a loveable hero who wants only two things in his life: to come out of his shell with the opposite sex and start making use of his college degree. Jesse Eisenberg (“The Squid and the Whale”) plays our main character James, who is initially uncomfortable with the environment in Adventureland and is mentored by his determined and slightly psychotic boss Bobby, amusingly portrayed by Mottola regular Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live”).”

      Third paragraph of Ebert: “Director Greg Mottola, who made the rather wonderful “Superbad,” is back now with a sweeter story, more quietly funny, again about a hero who believes he may be a virgin outstaying his shelf life. Jesse Eisenberg, from “The Squid and the Whale,” plays James, who has a degree in Renaissance studies. (The movie is set in the late 1980s and there may still be a few jobs around.) He’s out of his element at Adventureland; Bobby has to coach him to fake enthusiasm when he announces the horse- race game, where you advance your horse by rolling balls into holes. His performance reminded me uncannily of my last visit to Dave & Buster’s.”

      What he kept: The entire goddamned paragraph.

      What he added: A parenthetical “Saturday Night Live” credit, in lieu of a Dave & Buster’s reference.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

      Fourth paragraph of Petrosian: “Most of James’ co-workers understandably lust after the attractive and seductive Lisa, but not James. He only has eyes for Em, played successfully by the respectable rising star Kristen Stewart (“Twilight,” “Into the Wild”). Em, while beautiful, is unlike Lisa in being intellectual, deep and mature. She finds in James a sweet, rare companion who, while less experienced in things like sex and relationships, matches her fondness for engaging conversations.”

      Fourth paragraph of Ebert: “Most of the male employees in the park lust for Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva), whose Adventureland T-shirt unfortunately advertises Rides*Rides*Rides. James is much more interested in Em (Kristen Stewart), who is quieter and deeper (Games*Games*Games). She’s smart, quirky, seems more grown-up than the others. A quick rapport springs up, despite her edge on James in sexual experience. She thinks he’s kinda sweet. They talk about subjects that require more than one sentence.”

      What he kept: Everything.

      What he added: Nothing.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

      Fifth paragraph of Petrosian: “Some other interesting employees include Bobby’s peculiar wife Paulette, played by fellow SNL alum Kristen Wiig. She and her husband seem to have a preconceived notion of how every single job in the amusement park should be performed, and are adamant in running what they think is a respectable establishment that they have a personal attachment to. You can’t discuss this film without mentioning the film’s funniest character portrayed by possibly its best actor. Veteran funny man Ryan Reynolds (“Van Wilder,” “Just Friends,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) brings to his character Connell, the Adventureland’s out-of-place maintenance man, his usual quick-witted, smart-ass attitude that we all know and love.”

      Fifth paragraph of Ebert: “This romance takes fragile bloom while Mottola, also the screenwriter, rotates through a plot involving James’ friends, one of whom expresses his devotion by hitting him in the netherlands every time he sees him. We cut often to the owner Bobby and wife Paulette (Kristen Wiig), who are lovebirds and have firm ideas about how every job at the park should be performed, which doesn’t endear them to the employees because they’re usually right. Oh, and then there’s Connell (Ryan Reynolds), the good-looking maintenance man, who is married, and why am I telling you that?”

      What he kept: Everything but Ebert’s first sentence.

      What he added: A superfluous sentence fellating Ryan Reynolds.

    • Anonymous

      Dear r,

      I don’t think anyone is denying Petrosian plagiarized. And to Alex’s credit he did add some content. (ex: Difference of opinion on Kick-Ass). But, I don’t understand why you are defending Alex Kaplan.

      “I want to say that Alex Kaplan has no direct involvement in any of this. I don’t know where you get off slandering Kaplan’s reputation based on mostly-anonymous comments on this website,”

      I don’t know who runs this blog (http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com) but it seems Alex Kaplan or his supporters are very interested in slandering Mustang Daily, Petrosian, Storelli, and her family.

      Also, I have heard that Alex Kaplan is the one who brought this plagiarsim to attention of the editors in the first place. So to suggest that he has “no direct involvement” is quite preposterous.

      As for Storelli, she doesn’t seem to be involving herself in this Petrosian plagiarism incident. So, that is why she is spared from any of the “slandering” I make.

      • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

        I think Petrosian is very plainly denying that he plagiarized. At the very least, he’s trying to obfuscate the issue by talking around it (e.g. “Mistakes … were made.”) And even if he isn’t, he is certainly denying that he did stole from Ebert knowingly or deliberately. Shit, I wouldn’t even call this an apology. As the title says, he is lamenting an accidental mistake, an oversight–something that was “in no way intentional.”

        However, I think that the Adventureland review demonstrates that at least in one verifiable instance, Petrosian fully copy-and-pasted an entire Chicago-Sun Times column, then fucked around with sentence structure and diction a bit.

        I do not believe it is “to Petrosian’s credit” that in a year and a half of writing for the Mustang Daily he managed to produce “some” original content.

        That said, I don’t want this kid’s future ruined. It’s not his fault that Marlize van Romburgh set the bar so low for plagiarism-checking at the Mustang Daily, or that Emilie Egger couldn’t do any better. He was six months out of high school when he started biting Ebert, hardly the age of accountability.

        But he’s a big boy now, and big boys need to ‘fess up when they fuck up.

      • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

        Oh, I forgot to mention one thing.

        The Coalition for the Restoration of Alex Kaplan in the Cal Poly Community’s blog is a collaborative effort between several students at Cal Poly and other universities, but Kaplan himself does not directly contribute to it.

        Hope that clears things up for you.

      • Suzy

        There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start, Mr. Anonymous.

        First of all, Alex Kaplan is being mentioned because the people who are so against this plagiarism are being affiliated with a group online affiliated with defending Alex Kaplan. Going a bit off-topic, there is also an Alex Kaplan hate group, so this group isn’t entirely unfounded.

        Secondly, Alex Kaplan does not run that blog. You are not mistaken, you are just plain wrong.

        Third of all, Alex Kaplan had nothing to do with this exposure, so you’re also wrong on that account.

        Fourth of all, Storelli has nothing to do with Alex Petrosian, so you’re right on that account, and only that.

        Fifth of all, it’s people like you who speculate without reading all of the information presented who spread rumors and lies. Don’t you think that your speculating re: Alex Kaplan starting these accusations, when they could be farther from the truth, is really considered slandering? I believe you’re just another case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

      Sixth (and final) paragraph of Petrosian: “This film perfectly captures the feeling of nervousness shortly before entering adulthood. It predictably will be enjoyed most by audience members of our generation, the same demographic that still quotes “Superbad” on a daily basis. While Mottola directed both Adventureland and Superbad in a similar fashion with much of the same type of humor and even many of the same actors, it is a much more light hearted film that I believe will still be equally enjoyed.”

      Final two paragraphs of Ebert: “As the summer lurches between deadly boredom and sudden emergencies (someone wins a Big Ass Panda), James and Em grow closer. This is absorbing because they reveal themselves as smarter than anyone else realizes. From his earlier work, I expected to like Eisenberg. What surprised me was how much I admired Kristen Stewart, who in “Twilight,” was playing below her grade level. Here is an actress ready to do important things. Together, and with the others, they make “Adventureland” more real and more touching than it may sound.

      I worked two summers at Crystal Lake Pool in Urbana. I was technically a lifeguard and got free Cokes, but I rarely got to sit in the lifeguard chair. As the junior member of the staff, I was assigned to Poop Patrol, which involved plunging deep into the depths with a fly swatter and a bucket. Not a lot of status when you were applauded while carrying the bucket to the men’s room. (“No spilling!” my boss Oscar Adams warned me.) But there was another lifeguard named Toni and — oh, never mind. I don’t think she ever knew.”

      What he kept: Nothing.

      What he added: Like three whole sentences. Do mine eyes deceive me?

  • Aaron Berk

    The title of this article is “Columnist expresses regret for negligent transgression” which I don’t think is accurate. First off, “negligent” implies that Petrosian’s plagiarism wasn’t intentional, but rather through some sort of lack of checking on his part. This is not the case. Perhaps the Daily is “negligent” in not doing a better job to ensure the originality of Petrosian’s columns, but Petrosian himself was not “negligent”.

    Also, “transgression” should be plural, as this was not isolated to one incident.

    In fairness to Petrosian, I am aware that the Mustang Daily staff regularly changes the titles of columinist’s work, so it may not be Petrosian who is responsible for the title of this article. Regardless, the title is misleading and in my estimation, inaccurate.

  • Fernando

    Funny i wanted at one point to write movie reviews for the M-daily and was like damn they already have a person, and it’s pretty good. What a piece of work.

  • Kaplan’s Mother

    The Restoration for Alex Kaplan has no followers, the only person behind it is probably Alex Kaplan. I think this feeble attempt of pointing the finger at Alex Petrosian is trying just to take the heat off of him after his humorous attempt at running for ASI President. Stop bringing people down with you Kaplan, and try to rebuild your own reputation instead of wasting time with this whole Mustang Daily scandal.

  • Bob

    I used to work for mustang daily. I have heard the following from friends on the staff:

    1) Alex Kaplan was the individual who brought up that a large amount of writers on the staff plagiarize.

    2) Supposedly, the editorial staff had been noticing similarities with Petrosian’s and Ebert’s work, yet, they simply told him to try and be more complex and independent in his reviews. They believed that Petrosian’s passion for Ebert’s work was a large reason why the reviews seemed similar at times. Basically, the editorial staff lacked responsibility and should have either canned Petrosian or been more forceful in their action.

    3) I have heard the claim that the mustang daily will be shut down. What a treat.

    4) I feel bad for Petrosian. Only knew the kid for a couple months, but what a worker. He truly was mislead by the MD by them not being clear about there previous warning. Good luck man.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com ryan moriarty, not alex kaplan

      1. No, he didn’t. Kaplan himself couldn’t have known about Ebertgate until the CRAKCPC blog entry dropped.

      2. So, the entire editorial staff admits to being accessory to Petrosian’s plagiarism? That doesn’t sound like something a “nationally-recognized daily collegiate newspaper that holds itself to high ethical standards elicited by the Society of Professional Journalists” would do. If true, this is an interesting development. Hopefully Judicial Affairs will uncover some internal memos corroborating your claim.

      3. A treat? That would be a deliverance.

      4. I would really like to see Emilie Egger or Alex Petrosian respond to this. As it stands, he very obviously plagiarized Ebert in all of his reviews, but if that plagiarism was knowingly facilitated by the Mustang Daily editorial staff in the capacity you suggest, there are a few people besides Petrosian who aren’t ‘fessing.

  • Bob

    I used to work for mustang daily. I have heard the following from friends on the staff:

    1) Alex Kaplan was the individual who brought up that a large amount of writers on the staff plagiarize.

    2) Supposedly, the editorial staff had been noticing similarities with Petrosian\’s and Ebert\’s work, yet, they simply told him to try and be more complex and independent in his reviews. They believed that Petrosian\’s passion for Ebert\’s work was a large reason why the reviews seemed similar at times. Basically, the editorial staff lacked responsibility and should have either canned Petrosian or been more forceful in their action.

    3) I have heard the claim that the mustang daily will be shut down. What a treat.

    4) I feel bad for Petrosian. Only knew the kid for a couple months, but what a worker. He truly was mislead by the MD by them not being clear about there previous warning. Good luck man.

  • Moises Chiullan

    To see an alleged “writer” and confirmed plagiarist defend himself with something as flimsy as “I didn’t mean it” is sadly unsurprising, and is too common of late. That a college paper allowed him to print something like this “defense” is especially ethically bankrupt after they removed all evidence of Petrosian’s crime.

    As an editor, I’m particularly disgusted with the use of the word “negligent” in the title of this piece. Petrosian didn’t absent-mindedly grab his mouse and keyboard and plagiarize his face off. Whatever editorial staff let this go by on their watch should suffer the full consequences, aside from being damned ashamed of themselves.

    It’s also unfortunately too common that guys like Alex Kaplan are thrown under the bus for blowing the whistle. Rumors mentioned in the comments here of The Mustang Daily being shut down are unfortunate if it means your school will be without a paper. It’d be more satisfying to see the house cleaned and restarted under new management and editorial oversight.

    I think the university system in the US is far too forgiving to what was once considered the greatest sin in academia. We’ve moved to a place socially where everyone has an excuse and a reason why something isn’t their fault.

    I’ve had articles, critical essays, and research papers plagiarized by people of all ages, but mostly undergrads during the last ten years. When trying to have something done about it, I’ve gotten used to being treated like the bad guy, even though I’m the one whose work has been stolen. We’ve settled into this comfort zone of being everyone’s pal and not making waves. There are no consequences left if these crimes get a pass.

    If you respond to that last sentence thinking “crimes, dude, SERIOUSLY?”, then you’re part of the problem.

    I don’t feel bad for Petrosian in the least, and sincerely hope that he is expelled for this. The thing is, I don’t hope that out of any personal animosity toward him, but rather, because that IS the punishment according to the “law” of the academic world (the uni honor code). If you steal the writing of someone else, you’re out and gone, with no exceptions. “I didn’t understand…” is not a justification, it’s a flimsy excuse. Editors who encouraged this type of behavior should likewise be expelled.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com ryan moriarty, not alex kaplan

      I’m excited that this scandal is getting actual exposure among legitimate film critics, like yourself and William Goss.

      That said, I want to reiterate: “Ebertgate” is the product of people acting on Kaplan’s behalf, but the man himself did not have any direct involvement in exposing Petrosian’s misdeeds.

      • Moises Chiullan

        Thanks for the clarification. Short of being a Cal Poly student, I have no idea how I would know any specifics of that sort.

        Who the hell is William Goss? Sounds like a jerk.*

        *Will is a friend. I am razzing him. This footnote is mainly intended for William Goss.

    • Anonymous

      You are almost as bad as the RIAA/MPAA/BSA and other copyright bullies. Plagiarism isn’t stealing, plagiarism is plagiarism; Reusing ideas or facts without citation. Whenever you publish anything, you should expect that someone is going to reuse your ideas. The ‘crime’ here is the lack of citation, not the reuse of ideas (which is a good thing). The ‘victim’ isn’t the original author, but the downstream readers who are no longer able to follow facts and ideas to their source. Plagiarism isn’t a good thing; It results in the loss of information, a loss of authority or in unreproducible experiments. But, it is better than failing to create something.

      • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

        Yes, well, he continues to defend his “lack of citation,” so I’m inclined to say this “Ebertgate” ordeal goes a bit beyond the normal realm of benign or accidental academic dishonesty into being symptomatic of full-fledged sociopathy.

        The kid was caught, and rather than confess to his crimes and make up some bullshit excuse about how he had been borrowing from Ebert in order to meet deadlines for the Mustang Daily, or had been performing some sort of prolonged social experiment to see how long it would take for the incompetent staff at the Daily to identify his misdeeds, Petrosian opted instead to compound his offenses with more dishonesty. His trespasses are as transparently obvious as his unwillingness to take responsibility for them. This isn’t just the reuse of ideas without citation: it’s deliberate, systematic theft. It’s indefensible.

        And how is what Petrosian did “better than failing to create something”? Read through Petrosian’s catalogue, and compare his reviews to Ebert’s. He very clearly failed to create something. All he succeeded in doing was transferring watered-down copies of Ebert’s thoughts from a word processor to the Mustang Daily server. Hardly an accomplishment, and quite the intellectual “failure,” I would say.

  • William Goss

    A similar cautionary tale from the University of Missouri, Kansas City’s University News back in 2006: http://efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1823

  • Wesley Day

    How surprising! The article’s title was changed for accuracy, but it’s still not quite accurate, in that it says the he ‘expresses regret.’ I think it would be much, MUCH more accurate if the title were to say ‘Columnist sweeps blatant plagiarism under the rug, does not accept fault.’

    • Wesley Day

      Also, to Moises Chiullan and Todd Gilchrist, to clarify the issue for you (since I notice that there is some confusion between you on twitter), Alex Kaplan had no involvement in reporting the plagiarism to the Mustang Daily. Ryan Moriarity (who has posted above) was the one who pointed out the plagiarism, and because of his associations with Alex Kaplan, people have seen fit to assume that Kaplan is involved and decided to drag Kaplan’s name through the mud some more.

      • Moises Chiullan

        This all reminds me why I don’t miss student government or undergrad politics of any sort. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Moises Chiullan

    This all reminds me why I don\’t miss student government or undergrad politics of any sort. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Brian

    Huh? Moises, this has nothing to do with student government. I’m not sure how it was managed to turn an article regarding plagiarism by a newspaper columnist into some sort of negative press (yet again) against ASI.

    • Suzy

      Other people are making this about Alex Kaplan when it’s obviously not at all about Alex Kaplan.

    • Wesley Day

      Well, consider the fact that several posters brought Kaplan’s name up and proceeded to then insult and degrade him despite the fact that Kaplan is completely uninvolved in this. He was only expressing his distaste for student politics and the confusion it had caused him, which I believe he is entitled to do, and he certainly isn’t stating anything particularly negative about it. Any perceived negative press is purely that – perceived, but not tangible. :)

      • Suzy

        I completely agree.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

      “Brian” is undoubtably Briann Oppenheim, known stooge for the Storellis, disseminator of anti-Coalition misinformation and non-native English speaker. Here we see him defaming Alex Kaplan as part of his mistress’ sinister agenda “(yet again)”

      • Brian Oppenheim

        Nope, that comment was not me. For the record, I am not a “stooge” for Storelli, she was not at all a strong candidate. I did not vote for her, I voted for a write-in candidate. I just like to point out your hyppocracy…

        – Unfairly attacking Storelli’s family in response to what you perceive as unfair character attacks.
        – Deleting my comments from your blog after you complained about others deleting comments.

        • Brian Oppenheim

          … and yes, for all those reading his comments and mine, I am perfectly aware that I am “feeding the troll”.

          • Wesley Day

            Just a casual observation here: ‘r’s usage of rather flowery language (This statement carries no negative connotation, I am just pointing it out) may be odd, but he was only opening the floor to the possibility, which you have clarified.

            Beyond that, I really suggest you refine your definition of ‘feeding the troll;’ He is not a troll, nor are you feeding him.

          • Brian Oppenheim

            “In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response[1] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

          • Wesley Day

            I am well aware of the slang definition of ‘troll’ as it relates to the internet. However, I fail to see how ‘r’ is a troll. ‘r’ was simply attempting to clarify/speculate on who ‘Brian’ was, and expressed his perception of you in a flowery manner. Just because his opinions of you may upset you, does not mean that he is a troll.

        • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

          Motherfucker, please.

          http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com/2010/04/mission-statement.html#comments

          http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com/2010/05/know-your-enemy-vol-ii-storelli-family.html#comments

          The Coalition does not censor. We never directly responded to your allegations of “hyppocracy” (whatever that means), because they were incoherent and bore no semblance to an actual argument.

          And while we do not censor, we also do not go out of our way to accommodate ESL critics of our platform. We are faced with enough obstacles in championing our cause, and don’t have time to parse your comments into English. Sorry.

          As for the “irony” (another term of which you have a tenuous grasp) of “unfairly attacking” the Storellis as retaliation for the attacks level against the character of Alex Kaplan in the Mustang Daily and abroad, I would remind you that Article 52 of the 1977 Geneva Protocol clearly establishes that retaliation must satisfy proportionality and neutrality requirements in order to be considered lawful. As you have conceded, the Coalition’s retaliation against the Storellis and the Mustang Daily has been proportional to their own preemptive strikes against Kaplan. Further, if you (were capable of) read(ing) our blog, you would see that Sarah’s brothers Dominic and Christopher were instrumental in creating the Storelli political machine. In addition, the entire Mustang Daily was complicit in the “Ebertgate” scandal as well as in facilitating Jessica Barba’s libelous “face off” piece about Kaplan. Under Cal Poly’s own Standards of Student Conduct, the staff is culpable for their crimes.

          What a sight that would be, seeing the Mustang Daily being brought to task by the judicial organ of the same ineffectual bureaucracy they helped place in office.

          So, as you can see, the conditions of neutrality and proportionality as are required by the Geneva Protocol are well satisfied. If you have been having trouble reading any of this, I’m truly sorry, but I can’t accommodate you beyond offering you one final olive branch:

          http://translate.google.com

          • Brian Oppenheim

            I still fail to see how publishing Alex’s own direct quotes is considered libel.

          • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

            The California Civil Code defines libel as “a false and unprivileged publication by writing [...] which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.”

            How someone could trust that the quotes in the Barba article are Alex Kaplan’s “own direct quotes,” especially in the wake of Ebertgate and other scandals discrediting the reliability of the Mustang Daily and its staff, is beyond me.

            However, even if I were to join you in your ungrammatical, Wikipedia-forged reality and accept that the quotes were reported exactly as they came from Kaplan’s mouth, your failure to “see” is still predicated on the idea that the quotes themselves were the only factual statements in the article, which is not the case.

            For instance, she claims that his motivation to stand up against Storellian tyranny was the gym’s draconian ban on tank tops, when the quote that follows does not necessarily indicate that this was the catalyst that sparked his political ambition. Moreover, the two paragraphs preceding the libelous claim seem to indicate that his motivation was more accurately to disrupt the oligarchical cycle of ASI government.

            But I guess a 3.99 in Computer Science doesn’t mean you ever learned to read words good, eh Brian?

          • Brian Oppenheim

            First, I apologize for saying that you had deleted my comments, when you had not. It seems that my laptop had a cached version of the blog. Upon refreshing the page, my comments appeared.

            Knowing that we both have steadfast beliefs about what happened, I should not have posted comments here or on your blog. Seeing as we are both wasting our time with unnecessarily hostile debate while not doing anything constructive, I intend this to be my last post on the matter. Rather than go on arguing over text that we clearly interpret differently, let’s just agree to disagree.

            Good luck on your final exams.

  • Brian

    HAH. To be honest, my name isn’t even Brian, but just like you “r”, it’s not too tempting to use your real name for these posts now, is it?

    Or is “r” the infamous (and undoubtedly mentally unstable) Ryan Moriarity. No?

    • Suzy

      Duh Duh DUHHHHHH! (Cue the evil music)

  • Anonymous

    Whether Alex Kaplan writes the blog or not is irrelevant. The blog is about him and his supporters. If he endorses the blog than he endorses the actions of the blog, which in this case is viscous slandering. If Kaplan doesn’t want his name to be “dragged through the mud”, he should be more careful with his affiliations.

    • http://restorealexkaplan.blogspot.com r

      It’s also “about” Sarah Storelli, her brothers, the Mustang Daily, its editors, Alex Petrosian and Roger Ebert. By your logic, (that is, if we take the following conclusion as its own premise) they are all equally culpable in these supposedly “viscous” crimes.

  • Jamaica Rules

    logic, conclusion and premise. I think everyone’s on “R’s” side now.

  • Brian Oppenheim

    \"In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response[1] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.\" ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

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  • Kurt D

    Before even addressing the issue of plagiarism, I’d like to ask what kind of critic reads dozens of other people’s reviews before even watching a movie? Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s the stupidest review technique ever, unless you want to be sure to completely erase your own voice and opinion from your review.

    Cut-and-paste is a lot faster and more direct, bro. I’m not sure what you hoped to accomplish other than misappropriating a byline, but it sure wasn’t to become a movie critic.

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  • http://www.wearethesun.com San Diego PR Guy

    hey dude: it actually takes a lot more work to plagarize than just sit down and write about something you just saw. so save yourself some time and stop reading other folks before you right about something.

    and remember this: copying from one person is plagarizing. copying from two is research.

    the above quote is totally original to me.

    yes. yes it is. totally.

  • tak fuji

    I am not a student and live in NC- I came across this as with most things on the net by accident. But I will say this- Stealing from Ebert is like a band doing a cover song of N’Sync. Ebert is not “THE” voice of movie criticism. His critical work is actually quite shitty. It may appeal to the People magazine lowest comman denominator, but great film criticism? Hardly. Anyone who hated “Blue Velvet”, “The Night Porter”, and “Starship Troopers” (obviously a satire of Nazi’s and Police states) is not a critic but a fool. His spoonfeeding of pablam to the masses is almost an embarassment to the work of real movie critics. And to steal from him? Just sad and boring.

  • tak fuji

    I am not a student and live in NC- I came across this as with most things on the net by accident. But I will say this- Stealing from Ebert is like a band doing a cover song of N’Sync. Ebert is not THE voice of movie criticism. His critical work is actually quite shitty. It may appeal to the People magazine lowest comman denominator, but great film criticism? Hardly. Anyone who hated Blue Velvet, The Night Porter, and Starship Troopers (obviously a satire of Nazi’s and Police states) is not a critic but a fool. His spoonfeeding of pablam to the masses is almost an embarassment to the work of real movie critics. And to steal from him? Just sad and boring.

  • http://618315 tak fuji

    I am not a student and live in NC- I came across this as with most things on the net by accident. But I will say this- Stealing from Ebert is like a band doing a cover song of N\’Sync. Ebert is not THE voice of movie criticism. His critical work is actually quite shitty. It may appeal to the People magazine lowest comman denominator, but great film criticism? Hardly. Anyone who hated Blue Velvet, The Night Porter, and Starship Troopers (obviously a satire of Nazi\’s and Police states) is not a critic but a fool. His spoonfeeding of pablam to the masses is almost an embarassment to the work of real movie critics. And to steal from him? Just sad and boring.