Woody Paige apologizes for lifting quotes from John Ourand for ESPN column in Denver Post

Categories: Media

woody paige small.JPG
Woody Paige.
Woody Paige wrote about one of his employers using a forum provided by the other one in "ESPN Empire One Great Story," published in Sunday's Denver Post.

Problem is, three quotes in the piece appeared word for word in a SportsBusiness Journal article from April written by John Ourand, who called out Paige on Twitter. Today, Paige is offering his apologies.

"It was not done maliciously or to take credit for something I didn't do," Paige stresses. However, he adds, "It was my mistake."

As detailed in this SportsByBrooks post, Ourand's item contained the following passage.

[Cable pioneer Paul] Maxwell recalls sitting in an Anaheim, Calif., bar with cable industry icon Bill Daniels, who helped convince Getty Oil to fund ESPN in the early years. It was right after Getty had invested in ESPN, probably 1980. Evey, the Getty Oil executive responsible for overseeing the network, approached the duo, with a look of worry on his face. He asked, "Are we ever going to make money?"

"It was the first thing he asked Bill," Maxwell said. "Bill knew it would work. We both thought it was brilliant."

These lines bear something more than a casual resemblance to this section of Paige's column:

In an Anaheim, Calif., bar (near a theme park), Daniels was told by a Getty Oil executive about the venture's problematical plans. Daniels had persuaded the company to buy a majority share of ESPN.

Stuart Evey was concerned Getty Oil had made a mistake. "The first thing he asked Bill was: 'Are we ever going to make money?'" Colorado cable pioneer Paul Maxwell said. "Bill knew it would work. We both thought it was brilliant."

The similarities prompted this tweet from Ourand:

Hey @woodypaige. Did you really talk to Paul Maxwell? Or did you lift that quote from SBJ? Bad form to not list source. http://bit.ly/jC0Xw1less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

The SportsByBrook post argues that Paige has committed such acts in the past. The item offers up this example from a 2009 chat with sportswriter Dan Le Batard, another familiar face from ESPN:

Submitted 09/14/09 14:02:46 by Adam from Minnesota

Q: Is Woody Paige a big goofball when he isn't on Around the Horn? or is it just an act for TV

Answered 09/14/09 14:05:04 by Dan Le Batard
A: no, he's that....his career has kind of amazed me....my friend call him woody plaige....pre-internet, during a super bowl in miami, i went to ricky jackson's pahokee home....wrote scene.....described town....had a scene in which ricky was coming home with a big check for his family....a few days later, paige writes the same column....but he never went to the home and he just made up some bait shop and gave some black guy a quote in ridiculous black dialect....this was during denver news wars....the other denver paper called him out on it....even wrote a letter with both columns to the publisher, i think....but it was pre-internet so he never got in trouble...but the people at his paper have to know that he's pretty reckless

Paige denies committing this sin. "I heard that years ago -- that I didn't go to the player's hometown, which I did, and that I made up a conversation, which I didn't do."

However, he fesses up to an error in judgment regarding the quotes in the ESPN piece.

"We've agreed that the columns would be shorter, and my column was about six inches too long," he says. "So I cut six inches -- and in the final column I turned in, I improperly, incorrectly and unprofessionally cut the attribution to the SportsBusiness Journal.

"I knew Bill Daniels and wrote about him," he continues. "He was a friend, and he told me about that stuff -- but I didn't have a direct quote. So doing my due diligence, I found that quote from Mr. Maxwell, who I knew was from Denver, and I thought it added to the fact that Bill Daniels was very instrumental in helping ESPN, and also that ESPN was thinking very seriously about moving here years and years ago. So I put it in -- but then I screwed up the entire column by not attributing the quote."

How is he trying to make amends?

"I talked to John and I apologized to him," Paige allows. "I told him it was a mistake, and he accepted that and said he enjoyed the column."

In addition, Paige shared the situation with the folks at the Post, "and based on my conversations this morning, there will be a correction run" in the print edition; the online version linked above now includes the proper attribution, as well as a note pointing out the change.

That's fine by Paige. "I don't know that I chose to be in this limelight, but I chose to be in this business," he says. As such, scrutiny over his every word "comes with the territory. And I know better."

More from our Media archive: "Woody Paige's suicide-plan column best piece to date about Bronco Kenny McKinley's death."




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21 comments
jaybyrd
jaybyrd

Is it safe to assume that this is the first time that Paige has been CAUGHT? Usually actions, or inactions such as this are just the tip of the iceberg. Paige continues to downgrade the Denver sports commentary scene, which is already at rock bottom, anyway.

fraudcop
fraudcop

Woody probably can't spell plagiarism let alone know what it means.

Shannon
Shannon

I disagree that this was an "obvious" committing of plagiarism. All it takes is the wrong sentence being accidentally cut and this could happen to anyone. Paige is smart enough to know that his colleagues read his columns and would recognize their own work. Also interesting that the other "proof" of his misconduct is a web chat transcript that only exists on one blog. Let's be more careful before we throw around such a serious term, especially when referring to someone who has produced original work almost everyday for the last 30 years.

Guest
Guest

Plagiarism, Woody.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

Dean Singleton, Greg Moore and/or Scott Monserud need to give their reasoning for not firing, or even suspending, Woody over this gross and egregious "mistake." It's the cardinal rule of journalism, and any reputable news organization would make the punishment swift and well known. Or at least actually apply a punishment. Running a correction and updating the online version is done for a typo or bad information from a source -- not an obvious committing of plagiarism. Instead it's a pat on the back and them saying, "Try better next time not to do that." Or is the Post not a reputable news organization?

Bill
Bill

A beacon of journalism excellence. Where's Natalie Meisler's apology?

Guest
Guest

Bull fucking shit. You are obviously not a real journalist or have any idea of the role of a real journalist. Go home, shannon.

Bill
Bill

This seems to be the second incident. LeBatard -- and many others -- are convinced Plaige took from him before.

Barnival Carker
Barnival Carker

Jeffrey, their reasoning for not firing Woody might include that they would then need to possibly fire themselves and give back their own paychecks, for their piss poor judgment and the sloppy supervision and use of their underling.  After all, that's pretty much what happened to Scott McInnis.  Just musing.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Jeffrey. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for posting.

Shannon
Shannon

Bill - There was an apparent second accusation, but I haven't read those articles so I can't conclude either way if it happened or not. Have you?

"Guest" - Did I say I was a journalist? Just a human trying to express a little empathy and compassion. Something you're obviously not concerned with, since you just told a total stranger to fuck themselves over a difference in opinion. Were you on the debate team in high school? I'm actually a mathematician, and statistically since the number of times he's been accused of plagiarism over the the number of columns written over his career is less than .00001%, I'm wiling to concede that it's possible it was accidental. How are you so convinced it was malicious? What's your argument? Other than your implied journalism credentials, I mean.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

If Woody did write a column that was too long, then he can clear this up very easily -- produce the first column that was too long and (allegedly) had the attribution in it. And don't say it's gone forever, poof. In this day and age of technology, it's easy to capture the history of stories. If he produced the original -- did Post "editors" see the original -- I'd be satisfied. Though Plaige still has never written an original thought.

Guest
Guest

Woody has always been a hack with a thesaurus and rhyming dictionary....yet not an original thought. Like Bill Johnson, however, he will not be fired for stealing other people's work, making things up or taking freebies.

Guest
Guest

Again, if you don't care about honesty and integrity, then your opinion probably lacks both.

Shannon
Shannon

I'm so heartbroken that an anonymous poster who won't actually give an argument doesn't like my opinion.  I didn't realize you had to be a journalist to care about this story. What paper do you write for again?

Guest
Guest

Sorry, no compassion for a guy who has repeatedly committed the biggest sin in journalism. If you're a mathematician with no training in journalism ethics (or basic honesty, apparently), your opinion doesn't go very far with me.

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