Plagiarism in The Bollard
Shortly before our February issue went to press, I discovered that the draft of David Geary’s Beer and Loathing column for February was lifted almost whole cloth from another source. This prompted me to go back and look at the drafts of previous columns and, to my horror, I found that this plagiarism has been going on for months.
Beer and Loathing premiered in our June 2018 issue. That column and those published in the July, August, September and October issues were about David’s personal and professional experiences as a pioneering craft brewer, and thus were clearly original works. However, the Beer and Loathing columns we published in the November and December 2018 issues, as well as last month’s issue, were basically copies of others’ previously published material, altered only by the relatively minor edits I made to what I thought were David’s drafts. Here’s the full list of those columns and their original sources:
- “Loathing” (November 2018) plagiarized “18 Common ‘Off’ Flavors in Beer (And How They Are Caused),” by Nick Carr, originally published July 1, 2016, on kegerator.com.
- “Stylishness” (December 2018) plagiarized “How Many Different Kinds of Beer Are There?” by Bryce Eddings, published online by The Spruce Eats and last updated on Jan. 22, 2019.
- “Civil War Beers” (January 2019; retitled “The Battle of Beer Run” when it was posted on our website) plagiarized “Beer and Bullets: The History of Beer in the Civil War,” an un-bylined piece that originally appeared on the website of the American Battlefield Trust (battlefields.org).
Within minutes of discovering these serious ethical breaches, I removed all the Beer and Loathing columns from our website and informed David of that decision and the reasons why it was made. I have since contacted the publishers and authors of the works that were plagiarized to acknowledge my mistake and apologize for it. David promptly apologized to me for his actions and agreed to resign as a freelance contributor. His work will no longer appear in The Bollard.
I also apologize to you, Bollard readers, for not catching this earlier. As an editor, I strive to maintain the highest standards of journalistic ethics. That’s especially important given the nature of the work I’m most proud of publishing: investigative journalism that often relies on information from sources who must remain anonymous, and work that gives otherwise voiceless members of our community a venue to speak their truth, like this month’s op-ed, “Ugly Face.” If readers can’t trust that we’re being ethical about our sourcing practices, I may as well find another line of work. (White House spokesman comes to mind.)
I’ve known David Geary for many years and never had reason to doubt his honesty and integrity. That’s what made this revelation so surprising and disappointing. I still respect David and consider him a friend — a friend who, like all of us, makes mistakes. David didn’t offer an excuse or an explanation, but this was his first gig as a beer columnist and I know he found it challenging. Other than the very modest payments he received from this publication, he had nothing to materially gain by engaging in this type of theft. I suspect he did it because he was too proud to admit he was having a hard time writing about beer. That’s unfortunate, because as the father of Maine craft brewing, he already has much to be proud of.
I welcome your thoughts on this matter and encourage you to contact me any time you have a concern about the content in this publication. We’re also now looking for a new beer columnist. If you’re interested in the job, send a cover letter and writing samples to me at the e-mail below.
Thank you, as always, for reading.
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief