Cowboy Photo Essay Stolen, Canadian Fast Forward Magazine Admits Plagiarism

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Fast Forward Weekly's apology. (Credit: Fast Forward Weekly, screenshot)

Fast Forward Weekly apologized after learning one of its art reviews of a photography exhibition was plagiarized from an exhibition essay for the exhibition’s gallery.  The now unpublished article was a “review of Contemporary Cowboy, a photographic exhibition at Avalanche!”

The essay’s author, Andrea Williamson, blew the whistle, alerting Fast Forward Weekly to “the similarities between her essay and the article,” according to the apology, which Fast Forward Weekly editor Drew Anderson told iMediaEthics by email ran “online and in the front section of the paper edition, on the news page.”

“After a side-by-side comparison of the two write-ups, it was determined that there was legitimate grounds for the complaint,” Fast Forward Weekly noted.  Because iMediaEthics couldn’t find the Fast Forward Weekly article published online, we couldn’t compare it with Williamson’s article, which is published on Avalanche!’s website, to see how severe the plagiarism is.

The apology went on:

“We take plagiarism very seriously at Fast Forward Weekly and do not condone it under any circumstances. As writers and editors ourselves, the theft of someone else’s words is particularly galling to us. We apologize, without reservation, to Williamson.”

According to Fast Forward Weekly’s Feb. 14 apology, it unpublished the article online “but there was nothing to be done about the print copies already on the street.”

Fast Forward Weekly identifies itself as a weekly publication focusing on “arts, culture and alternative news in Calgary.” Its website reports that it has a circulation of “over 23,000 copies weekly.”

The author of the plagiarized story was Kelsie Hjorleifson, Fast Forward Weekly editor Anderson confirmed to iMediaEthics by email.  While she has an author page on Fast Forward Weekly’s website, there are no stories published under her name.  Further, the Feb. 7 “Photo I.D.” online story has been replaced by a note about the plagiarism.

Because of the plagiarism, Anderson said Hjorleifson won’t write for Fast Forward Weekly again.  He wrote:

“This was her first assignment and it is most certainly her last.  We will have no relationship from this point forward. We take plagiarism very seriously and anyone caught committing it will no longer be welcome on our pages.”

Anderson explained that Hjorleifson’s story was “part of an internship organized through the Alberta College of Art and Design.” He explained:

“Each year we take a fourth-year student from this arts college who wishes to learn the art of writing about the arts outside of an academic setting. I should stress that it’s a great institution, with a great prof overlooking the program and we’ve never had a problem before.”

Further, Anderson noted that she “did not try to justify the plagiarism beyond saying that it was a lapse of judgement and that she was nervous about the assignment.”

iMediaEthics has written to Hjorleifson asking for confirmation her article was the one in question, and how the plagiarism happened.

We are also writing to Williamson asking how she found the plagiarism, for a comparison of the text that she reported highlighting the plagiarism, and if she is satisfied with Fast Forward Weekly’s apology. Finally, we contacted Avalanche!, the gallery hosting the exhibition and that published Williamson’s essay, for comment.  We’ll update with any responses.

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Cowboy Photo Exhibition Essay Stolen, Canadian Fast Forward Magazine Admits Plagiarism, Unpublishes Art Review

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