Pharyngula

Breathtaking editorial arrogance

A woman wrote an article on LiveJournal, freely available to readers and for her own interests, and then the managing editor of a small magazine picked it up and published it, without notification and without, of course, payment. When the author contacted the editor and pointedly brought up the matter of the ethical lapse, suggesting that compensation could be in the form of a donation to the Columbia School of Journalism, the editor, Judith Griggs, condescendingly wrote back with this load of tripe:

Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was “my bad” indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.

But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!

Whoa. Patronizing, critical snark from the wicked witch who plainly stole somebody else’s work for her personal gain. By the way, apparently the bits that needed editing were literal transcriptions of 16th century spellings from an old cookbook which the editor updated, not flaws in the author’s writing.

Just to add a little extra irony to the whole affair, Judith Griggs’ email had this signature:

This electronic message may contain information privileged for the addressee only.
Please be advised that the Cooks Source email addressee is not intended to be transferred to any other addressor, and any copying, distribution or use of the contents of this message is prohibited.

I think Ms Griggs is about to discover that her snootiness is going to be transferred, copied, and distributed to a greater extant than she imagined.