The alleged plagiarism
was discovered by blogger Ron Brynaert, who has tracked
other plagiarism by Gannon and various Talon News
correspondents at his blog, WhyAreWeBackInIraq.
A Jun. 17, 2003 article published by Jim Guckert, who
wrote under the pen name Jeff Gannon, contains numerous
identical quotes and similar phrasing to an article
written by Melissa Beecher for the Waltham Daily News
Tribune five days earlier. A comparison of the two articles
compiled by Brynaert follows.
In the article about a Massachusetts couple who refused
to let their home-schooled children take a standardized
test, Guckert used quotes identical to Beecher's article
without attribution. Beecher was the only reporter
in attendance at the couple's home the day the Department
of Social Services came to collect the children.
Guckert did not respond to two email requests for
The accusations by Beecher—and her editor—are
sure to raise concern about Guckert's selection for
a National Press Club event Apr. 8 titled, "What
is a Journalist," and draw new attention to two
copied verbatim from the Associated Press in April,
2003. Both Beecher and her editor were shocked to
hear the Guckert would be a panelist.
Beecher, who now writes for the Salem News, said
she remembered the story Guckert apparently copied
“I remember this particular story so vividly
because of the people that were involved," Beecher
STORY. "I had to wake up in the morning
at six o'clock in the morning to get there at 6:15 because
I had to be there when DSS arrived.”
"I do understand that major papers use the smaller
papers as a way to get their news to know what’s
going on in some of these smaller communities,"
she added, "but when direct quotes are used without
attribution it’s not acceptable. Good reporters
don’t do that. It’s upsetting to see that
a nationally-recognized personality would.”
Beecher says she was the only reporter at the event.
“My frustration lies in that I was the only
media at this particular event," she continued.
"I saw what one person said to another person.
I witnessed what the house looked like, the children’s
state of mind, the interactions between people and
the exchanges. And to see that appear in someone else’s
story when they didn’t do the legwork is unethical
Richard Lodge, editor-in-chief for the western division
of the Massachusetts-based Community Newspaper Company,
confirmed her account.
"What bothers me was that it was so clear that
it was our story," Lodge told RAW
STORY. "He was not there, and yet he
represented to his readers that he was. She was the
only reporter in that room. The fact that he didn’t
attribute it, that he represented to readers that he
was there was a lie. He is a liar.”
Lodge was startled to hear that Guckert would be
a panelist at the National Press Club next week.
“He’s not a journalist," Lodge remarked.
"And he misrepresented to anyone reading that
website that this was his work, and it was not his
work, plain and simple.”
"When somebody sets himself up to be a credible
journalist, however the heck he did that—and
I think it happened because nobody questioned him—then
he is tainting all of us legitimate journalists,"
Lodge added. "Because whatever questions he’s
asking, and whatever stories he’s allegedly
writing, are suspect. And I think that makes readers
suspect all of us.”
Lodge said he had spoken about the matter to their
attorneys, who were "not planning" to take
Beecher was similarly aghast that Gannon would be
considered for a panel at the Press Club.
“When I attend those conferences and I’ve
been to many, you always think the person behind the
desk that you’re learning from has qualifications
that put them there," Beecher added. "It’s
just disturbing that a person who is accused of doing
what he did is now teaching the next generation of
young reporters. Or fostering a dialogue between professionals
in this business.”
“That’s just upsetting to real journalists
that someone who does a copy and paste job has that
title, or can be in the same circle that a lot of
us pay our dues to be in,” she added. “I
know reporters who paid their dues for years and years
to even be considered as a White House correspondent,
never mind making up your own news company and walking
The National Press Club did not immediately respond
to a call placed for comment early this afternoon.
STORY reported on two other Talon News
reporters who were accused of plagiarizing here
in February of this year.
The following comparison of the two articles was
compiled by Brynaert.
standoff in Waltham
By Melissa Beecher / CNC Staff Writer
Friday, June 13, 2003
Parents Threatened With Loss of Children
By Jeff Gannon
June 17, 2003
Guckert -A homeschooling Massachusetts family clashed
with workers of that state's Department of Social
Services last week when the agency tried to force
their children to take a standardized test.
Beecher - A legal battle over two home-schooled
children exploded into a seven-hour standoff yesterday,
when they refused to take a standardized test ordered
by the Department of Social Services.
Guckert - At 7:45 a.m. Thursday, DDS workers and
police came to the Waltham, MA residence of George
and Kim Bryant to transport the couple's two children
George Nicholas, 15, and Nyssa, 13, to a hotel to
administer a test to determine their educational
Beecher - George Nicholas Bryant, 15, and Nyssa
Bryant, 13, stood behind their parents, Kim and
George, as police and DSS workers attempted to collect
the children at 7:45 a.m. DSS demanded that the
two complete a test to determine their educational
Guckert - Waltham Youth Officer Detective James
Auld said, "We are simply here to prevent a
breach of the peace, we will not physically remove
Beecher - "We are simply here to prevent a
breach of the peace," said Waltham Youth Officer
Detective James Auld. "We will will not physically
remove the children."
Guckert - DDS worker Susan Etscovitz adamantly
told the Bryants, "We have legal custody of
the children and we will do with them as we see
Beecher - "We have legal custody of the children
and we will do with them as we see fit," DSS
worker Susan Etscovitz told the Bryants in their
Gale Street home.
Guckert - The Waltham couple was ruled unfit because
they did not file educational plans or determine
a grading system for the children.
Beecher - The parents have been ruled as unfit
because they did not file educational plans or determine
a grading system for the children,
Guckert - Kenneth Pontes, area director of DDS
said that it is possible that the children will
be removed from their home, but that would be a
last course of action.
Beecher - Pontes said that a possibility exists
that the children will be removed from their home,
but that was a last course of action.
Guckert - The Framingham Juvenile Court issued
a court order at 1:00 p.m., and the Bryants drove
their children to the hotel. But the children refused
to take the test.
Beecher - After a court order was issued by Framingham
Juvenile Court around 1 p.m., the children were
driven by their parents to a Waltham hotel. Again,
they refused to take the test.
Guckert - The Bryants believe that the city and
the state do not have the legal right to force their
children to take standardized tests.
Beecher - The Bryants contend that the city and
state do not have the legal right to force their
children to take standardized tests
Guckert - Both sides agree that the children have
not been abused mentally, physically, sexually,
Beecher - Both sides agree that the children are
in no way abused mentally, physically, sexually
Brynaert also caught Gannon apparently copying from
two Associated Press articles in April, 2003.
Associated Press: "One of the slain clerics,
Haider al-Kadar, was a widely hated loyalist of
Hussein, part of the Iraqi leader's ministry of
religion. The other was Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a
high-ranking Shiite cleric and son of one of the
religion's most prominent ayatollahs, or spiritual
leaders, who was persecuted by Hussein. Al-Khoei
had urged cooperation with U.S. troops."
Guckert: "One of the slain clerics, Haider
al-Kadar, was a widely hated Saddam Hussein loyalist,
part of the Iraqi leader's ministry of religion.
The other was Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a high-ranking
Shiite cleric and son of one of the religion's most
prominent ayatollahs, or spiritual leaders, who
was persecuted by Saddam. Al-Khoei had urged cooperation
with U.S. troops."
Associated Press: "American troops have worked
to block roads leading to Tikrit, hoping to keep
Iraqi leaders from fleeing there as well as reinforcements
Guckert: "American troops have worked to block
roads leading to Tikrit, hoping to keep Iraqi leaders
from fleeing there as well as reinforcements from
Lodge told RAW STORY had had spoken with the paper's
attorneys, not that the matter had been "referred"
to the attorneys.