My first inkling that Pulitzer was up to something new came in his November 27 post asking the important question "What do Presidents, Explorers and Inventors have in common?" Rather than wasting his time writing his own answer to the question, Pulitzer just copied and pasted text from Wikipedia and a website about inventors. The plagiarism seemed ironic at first (the apparent point of Pulitzer's post, after all, was to argue that his own creativity and originality should place him in the pantheon of daring thinkers and doers that includes such towering figures as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln). I now realize, however, that I just didn't get it: he was actually demonstrating his inventiveness in a more subtle way, dropping a clue about the existence and capabilities of his new invention.
You know the saying: fool me once . . . I'm onto him now! Pulitzer tipped his hand that something new was on the way with his latest blog post about a Spanish shipwreck located near Colombia. Although the story is signed "Hutton Pulitzer reporting for Investigating History Daily," the vast majority of the content is copied directly from other stories and papers that Pulitzer did not write. Here is the first paragraph, for example:
"History notes, that On the morning of May 28, 1708, the British Commodore, Charles Wager, wrote in his journal “Little wind round the compass, calm, cloudy and some rain.” Commodore Wager commanded a squadron of four British warships, which lay in wait off the Spanish Main, hoping to surprise and capture the treasure-bearing galleons of the Spanish fleet as they approached the port of Cartagena. One victim of the surprise attack was San JosÃ galleon."
Here, for comparison, is the first paragraph of a document titled "The Sinking of the San Jose," attributed to Jack Harbeston, Managing Director, Sea Search Armada, October 24, 2011:
"On the morning of May 28, 1708, the British Commodore, Charles Wager, routinely noted the weather in his journal: “Little wind round the compass, calm, cloudy and some rain.” Commodore Wager commanded a squadron of four British warships which lay in wait off the Spanish Main, hoping to surprise and capture the treasure-bearing galleons of the Spanish fleet when it approached the port of Cartagena."
I think it's probable that Pulitzer's new invention (which I call the "PlagiarismCat") still has a few bugs. Neglecting to change the capitalization at the beginning of the plagiarized passage, for example, is a rookie mistake for a human plagiarist. Hopefully they can get those issues worked out before the PlagiarismCat becomes available on store shelves.
The text of the second, third, and fourth paragraphs of Pulitzer's story comes from this article about the wreck written by Bill Blare. Portions of the last paragraph of Pulitzer's story are taken from this story in the Miami Herald by Jim Wyss.
Despite the bugs, I think it's fair to say that the PlagiarismCat is going to save Pulitzer valuable time producing his blog posts and articles. Just think of all the content that's already out there for the taking, with more being produced daily by hard-working (foolish, some might say) writers toiling away on their old-fashioned QWERTY keyboards. It's all fair game! Pulitzer has established once again that he has no need for such anachronistic practices as "writing" and "research" - let the mere mortals busy themselves with all that boring stuff!
I hope the PlagiarismCat is available by Christmas. It would make a great gift for that "fringe" writer in your life who already has everything.