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Goodbye, Flatland

March 9, 2012 - Jim Anderson
Jon Flatland has left the building.

Flatland, managing editor of the The Times of Blooming Prairie, Minn., resigned last week after being busted for plagiarism.

Flatland wrote a humor column for the paper called, “Thoughts While Shaving.”

A more appropriate title might have been, “Thoughts Copied While Stroking My Sinister Chin.”

It’s surprising that Flatland — a 28-year veteran of the newspaper business in states including Minnesota, North Dakota and Nebraska — got away with it for so long. He was the 2009 president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association.

Rick Bussler, publisher of the Minnesota weekly where Flatland’s career came to an end, told the Grand Forks Herald there was evidence of Flatland plagiarizing other writers’ work as far back as 1995.

Last year, Flatland received a first-place award for a humorous column from the North Dakota Newspaper Association. The same column was earlier authored by Jason Offutt, a writer in Missouri. (Hate when that happens.)

When asked by the Associated Press whether he had committed plagiarism, Flatland responded, “Apparently I did but not to the extent they’re saying.”

Well, what they’re saying is pretty bad. The typical title associated with Flatland these days is “serial plagiarist.”

Flatland told the AP he’s done with the newspaper business.

He still has a future as a speechwriter, perhaps.

I was looking over the things he said as he fled Minnesota and, frankly, the guy has some things to say.

It went something like this:

“People who know me know that besides faith and family, nothing’s more important to me than our beloved Alaska.

“Life is too short to compromise time and resources ... it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: ‘Sit down and shut up,’ but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and ‘go with the flow.’

“Nah, only dead fish ‘go with the flow.’

“I WILL support others who seek to serve, in or out of office, for the RIGHT reasons, and I don't care what party they're in or no party at all. Inside Alaska — or Outside Alaska.

“But I won't do it from the Governor's desk.”

Hey, wait a minute ...



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