Lonely Planet plagiarism scandal
Hi everybody, did you notice this terrible story http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/13/wtravel113.xml
The image of the conscientious travel writer has been dealt a blow by a tell-all memoir by a Lonely Planet author, who discloses that he spent more time chasing women and selling drugs than checking train timetables.
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Modern guide books like to portray themselves as the definitive source of information on how holidaymakers can enjoy themselves in far-flung corners of the globe without damaging the environment or upsetting local people.
But in a warts-and-all account of how he came to write Lonely Planet’s guide to Brazil, the American writer Thomas Kohnstamm has revealed a world where good reviews may be exchanged for sex or a free room for the night, and decisions on which restaurants to include are dependent on the whims of a hard-up author without time to check the details.
In Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?, Mr Kohnstamm, 32, discloses that there was nothing lonely about his three years travelling through Latin America, working on a dozen different titles.
“The waitress suggests that I come back after she closes down the restaurant, around midnight,” he writes. “We end up having sex in a chair and then on one of the tables in the back corner.
” That performance earned a guidebook entry describing the restaurant as “a pleasant surprise” where “the table service is friendly”. He also recounts how he shared his apartment with a Brazilian prostitute called Inara. Short of cash, he admitted selling ecstasy to pay his way.
Lonely Planet bosses are not amused. Last week, the company’s chief executive, Judy Slatyer, sent an email to her writers condemning Mr Kohnstamm. Her greatest concern is his assertion that his advance payment was “barely enough to cover the air fare” and that many guide book writers do not check their facts in a bid to finish before they “run up credit card debt” and “burn out”.
Miss Slatyer dismissed Mr Kohnstamm’s “somewhat self-indulgent experience working on the previous edition of our Brazil guide”.She added: “We are now urgently reviewing all current books Thomas contributed to, using authors on the ground and others. If we find that the content has been compromised, we’ll take urgent steps to fix it.”
Mr Kohnstamm was the principle writer on the Lonely Planet guide to Brazil and was a coordinating author on the Lonely Planet titles on Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, the Caribbean and Latin America.
He has won support from fellow writers. One email reads: “A number of us have been talking about writing a book like this, but you are the first to have the balls to do it.”
And on the Lonely Planet web group, Jeanne Oliver, who wrote the guides to France and Croatia, said: “You know you are not paying enough money to authors to do the work you expect. You are begging authors to cut corners ? or to help finance the book out of their own pocket.”
I listened this morning at BBC Radio4 Today’s program about this. They interviewed the author of the book and Lonely Planet’s representative. It is pretty bad
Another ariticle is at http://www.travelmole.com/stories/1127953.php
Lonely Planet plagiarism scandal
An AAP report says that popular guide book giant Lonely Planet has suffered a severe blow to its credibility, with one of its authors admitting to plagiarising and making up huge slabs of his books.
Thomas Kohnstamm, who worked on more than a dozen guide books for the publisher, has even admitted that he didn’t visit one of the countries he wrote about, saying he worked on the book about Colombia from his US home.
“They didn’t pay me enough to go (to) Colombia,” News Ltd newspapers reported him saying.
“I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating – an intern in the Colombian Consulate.
“They don’t pay enough for what they expect the authors to do.”
He also claimed to have accepted free travel, breaking the publisher’s policy aimed at maintaining the independence of its authors.
Mr Kohnstamm’s confession is a severe blow to Lonely Planet, considered a bible to travellers all over the world.
More than six million of its country guides are sold each year.
Lonely Planet has conducted a review of all Mr Kohnstamm’s guide books, but says it has failed to find any inaccuracies in them.
Another article on the same theme is here
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