How serial plagiarist Jon Flatland learned he'd been caught

Jon Flatland's incredible plagiarism spree came to an end earlier this week after a phone call from Greg Bulmash, who was among the writers humorist Dave Fox notified to say that Flatland had plagiarized their work.

Bulmash says Flatland, a columnist and former newspaper owner, copied his 1996 poem "When Dad Pulled Over." "He changed the antagonist from an older sister to a brother, but it was otherwise pretty much word-for-word," Bulmash wrote in an email.

"I called the paper, demanding to talk to the editor, not knowing that Flatland was the editor," Bulmash said. "He claimed he hadn't realized he'd plagiarized, saying he'd found it in an old folder and thought he wrote it. I asked for a public retraction and correction and suggested he get ready to issue more apologies because it seemed other authors had similar issues with him."

After Bulmash called, Flatland emailed his boss, Rick Bussler, and resigned. "Feel like crap that I went-off half-cocked and gave him a heads-up before his boss could confront him," Bulmash wrote.

This isn't Bulmash's first brush with unauthorized reuse of his work. A 1997 humor column he wrote about a McDonald's application made Snopes after it became a much-forwarded email that senders claimed was true.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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