This column by Steve Jeffrey of The Anchor Weekly, published June 9, is virtually identical to one written by Telegram columnist Russell Wangersky more than three years earlier. Jeffrey resigned Tuesday. — Screen grab of website issuu.com
A journalist accused of plagiarizing several writers, including three from Newfoundland, has resigned.
As reported by The Telegram Monday, Steve Jeffrey, the editor, publisher and owner of the Anchor Weekly in Chestermere, in southern Alberta, was accused Monday by an American humour writer of plagiarizing more than 40 of his weekly columns in the past year from 14 different writers, including Russell Wangersky, Ed Smith and Bill Westcott of Newfoundland.
On Tuesday, Jeffrey sent an email to the Calgary Herald, saying he used materials from other writers as “inspiration” for his weekly column, “Sittin’ in the Lighthouse.”
“I really don’t have any way to defend myself. I did use articles for inspiration, but thought that I had changed the content enough to comply,” he wrote in the email to the Herald, adding he’s out of town and would comment further upon his return. “In the meantime, I have tendered my resignation,” he wrote.
Jeffrey did not respond to The Telegram’s requests Tuesday for comment. An email sent to his address received an automated reply stating he’s out of town until April 13 and would respond then. He told The Telegram Monday he was going to British Columbia for a week.
Ashton Faulkner, a reporter at the Anchor, told The Telegram she spoke to Jeffrey Tuesday morning. He told her he was resigning, she said, but not much else.
“He said essentially the exact same thing to me that he did to the Herald,” she said. “I’m sorry I can’t give you much more than that, but he’s really the only one that knows what’s going on, and I can’t really speculate.”
Given that Jeffrey is the owner of the Anchor, its unclear what his resignation means for the paper.
“I’m a little bit confused. I’m kind of waiting to hear, but as far as I know, he’s on a plane to B.C. Things are up in the air. Sorry I can’t help you much,” said Faulkner.
Ossie Sheddy, the president of the board of directors of the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association — of which Jeffrey is a member of the board, and of which the Anchor is a member paper — wouldn’t say if the association is investigating the matter, and asked not to be quoted.
“I don’t give quotes for fear of being misquoted,” he said. When pressed by The Telegram about why the president of the association wouldn’t say if it plans to investigate — and whether his refusal to be interviewed suggests a lack of confidence in newspaper reporting — Sheddy, the editor and publisher of the Drumheller Mail, said, “I’m not saying anything more because of what I had just told you. I can’t say anything about newspaper reporting or confidence in it. I can only say I have confidence in my newspaper reporting, not about anybody else’s.”
The Alberta Press Council, however, said the complaint it received from a U.S.-based writer — among those Jeffrey is accused of plagiarizing — will be given to its executive council, which will decide Thursday if it will adjudicate. The council is an independent organization funded by member newspapers, including some Alberta dailies as well as the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association.