Thursday, May 17, 2007

Copycats! Copycats!

Before I delve into some of the wonderful food adventures we had in London, a coworker of mine, Mara (who you’ll remember as having taken down that 29 pound turkey on her first hunt), came over to my desk yesterday morning with a “scoop” for me. It seems that the folks at "Time Out New York" did a story on the best walks to do in New York City. But lo and behold, in their story they had a sidebar called “Walk of Shame” in which they discussed giving “violations” for offenders of “pedestrian crimes”.

Hmm. Does this idea sound familiar? It should, considering that back in March I unveiled a posting on the “Rules of Pedestrian Engagement”.

I have tons of admiration for Time Out New York and often keep issues for months and years as references. And the Time Out New York crew obviously has a larger budget than I do (my budget is a whopping nil, zilch, zero, none, you get the point). They were even able to go out and produce video of their reporter dressed up as a policewoman, zapping pedestrians for their violations and giving them tickets (again, sounds a little familiar doesn’t it?)

Some of the violations they handed out were for:

“Walking too slow in a crowded area”

“Stopping in an inconvenient place”

“Stopping at the top of the stairs at a subway station”

And…drumroll please…

“Walking side by side in a group of three or more” much as I love Time Out New York for their articles and viewpoint on New York City life I became very suspicious. Especially considering the violation I had specifically discussed giving pedestrians was:

“Persons in groups of three or more who are walking together side by side”

Hmm...can someone say plagiarism?

Now I know my blog is not as popular as say Gawker or any of the other celebrity or humor blogs out there, but how was I to know that someone hadn’t seen my blog, read that post and decided that that would make a great idea for a story. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I wrote a letter to Time Out New York explaining I was a loyal reader and that I was curious on where they got their idea and inspiration for this pedestrian rules story being that I had covered a similar story months back.

I got a prompt and courteous response back from their deputy editor saying that their ideas are discussed in their brainstorming sessions, and they had an idea about walking etiquette in general and came up with some nagging pedestrian gripes, like walking in threes, impeding traffic, etc. They assured me they had no knowledge of my blog and thanked me for also shedding light on the subject.

I thought it was very nice of them to send a response in acknowledgement. And I’m sure their initial response was like, “Fuck this guy, we’re Time Out New York, who gives a shit about his little blog”. And rightly so. But in this day and age of “The Blogger” and with journalistic integrity under scrutiny now more than ever, I was a little disappointed they didn’t research their subject a little before going to press with the story. Not to say pedestrian rules haven’t been discussed before in many aspects and I know I’m certainly not the first nor the last to come up with zany ideas on how to punish pedestrian rule violators. However, I know that with my journalism background, Journalism 101 says always research your subject to see if it’s been discussed before.

I know I do that with this blog, and if come across an idea that has been discussed already, I’ll decide if my spin on things is unique and then move forward from there. If my idea is not fresher or better than the one already out there, maybe I’ll acknowledge the point and give credit to the person who came up with the idea. Case and point, I thought up an idea when I (ok...Bridget) launched this blog over a year ago to call myself “America’s Next Top Blogger”, after the widely popular “America’s Next Top Model” show with Tyra Banks. However, a quick Google search yielded some people had already used that term so I decided that I could just be seen “copying” off them even though I had the idea pop into my head without seeing it elsewhere.

Anyway, I was a little upset that no one on their team did any research on Pedestrian Rules or Pedestrian Violations or giving tickets to pedestrians in a humorous sort of angle. Not to say they necessarily would have seen my posting, but with just a little Google digging they could have seen the topic had been discussed. I do however applaud their ingenuity and brainstorming ideas and, taking the high road (which I almost never, ever do!) gave a kudos response back to their staff for the idea. I also mentioned they can feel free to contact me about future ideas, for which I of course was met with no response.

So I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt for now. Although I can proudly say that I “went to market” and developed an idea way before a whole staff of journalists did for a popular magazine! Just shows that thanks to blogs anyone can voice their opinions and ideas, no matter how far-fetched or arcane! And maybe they’ll take me up on my offer to help brainstorm a few ideas for them for future stories. Although that's highly doubtful.

Anyway, this is a warning, Time Out New York staff. If I do see any articles in the future that even remotely resemble a topic I’ve discussed on this blog I’m calling bullshit on you! I'll go to your offices and inflate one of those union rats in front of your building! I'll say mean and nasty things about your mother is a french prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet! So let this be a warning!

An inflatable rat awaits the next person who plagiarizes this blog!

I’ll post more later on my food adventures through London, including my yummy rendez-vous with Fish and Chips and my experience at the widely popular chain, Wagamama.


neil from the uk said...

I LOVE Wagamama...can't wait to hear your thoughts!

roger said...

good discussion over at the wordpress site!