The Orange County Register and AOL's Patch have served as home and away courts for a series of journalistic volleys involving Patch's San Juan Capistrano news site and that city's controversial lawyer, educator and city councilman, Derek Reeve.
The latest kill-shot involves Reeve losing a teaching gig at Concordia University of Irvine, although it is unclear if his departure involves the plagiarism allegations swirling around him.
To back up, the Weekly radar first picked up Reeve in January, when he pushed unsuccessfully for the right of people to carry guns in city parks. But he drew national headlines last month when he disclosed he'd named a family dog, or "bitch" as he put it, after the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Beyond straight reporting of such stories, reporters routinely empty from their notebooks related details about a subject. You know, like the arrest of a suspected serial killer going on to produce a third-day story on the same guy having previously lost his circus clown job because he creeped out kids.
Anyway, after the dog story broke, San Juan Capistrano Patch editor Jenna Chandler reported as much as two-thirds of Reeve's essays for the news site were filled with "a patchwork of paragraphs identical to material written by newspaper columnists and reporters for such publications as The Oregonian and The Hill." I blogged about the Muhammad and plagiarism controversies here:
Since that report came out, the Register carried an op-ed piece by Reeve, who has apparently contributed to the Santa Ana daily before, where he admits to carelessness before claiming it was one "informal published blog" ala a Facebook entry that Patch editors made into three article "without my consent."
Those editors now have "the chutzpa to compare this to a student's thesis which is like comparing apples to gorillas," Reeve adds.
"In the legal and education professions in which I work," he writes, "I take pains to add footnotes to identify the origin of ideas. But in everyday communication and most especially blogging, the atmosphere is much more relaxed and informal."
Besides the latest story on Reeve losing the Concordia position, Patch has followed up by reporting despite the councilman shrugging off the allegations, the writers whose works he borrowed without attribution are miffed.
Though the university won't confirm it--issuing only this brief statement on the matter: "Derek Reeve is not currently employed by Concordia"--it does have a strict policy against plagiarism. The private Christian school's fall schedule had indicated Reeve was teaching American Government and Comparative Political Systems this semester.
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Meanwhile, Reeve's take on the controversy may have been the last word in the Register were it not for the paper's metro columnist Frank Mickadeit, who could not get the councilman to answer his questions about the matter. Mickadeit righteously explains there was more than one long informal blog post, as Reeve had put it, that sounded alarm bells at Patch.
Reeve didn't just lift from a single writer but rather from at least four, including Fox's John Stossel. That seems to go beyond a careless mistake in one piece.
As for the "relaxed and informal" nature of blogging and comparing what he was doing for Patch to a Facebook post? Take a look at Patch. Does it seem like social media? Or is it more like a news-gathering organization? Reeve's writings read like they were intended to be legitimate op-ed pieces, regardless of the platform. Finally, if it was all so innocent, why did it take a week to come up with an explanation?
After making Reeve their bitch in their pieces, at least Patch and Mickadeit had the good sense not to nickname him Muhammad.