Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lonely Planet Plagiarism

The guys over at Road Junky (see my bio) will be chortling over this. A writer for Lonely Planet called Thomas Kohnstam has admitted making up or plagiarising large chunks of the twelve books he has worked on. Worse still, he didn't even visit Colombia -- the subject of one of his publications, claiming that he 'didn't get paid enough' to go there . Kohnstam said:

"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."

Sure, so everything is about money these days, and freelance writers are exploited. But man, what has gone wrong with the world? For me and all the twentysomething wannabe Hemingways I met as a backpacker, scrounging around Latin America and jotting down things in a notebook was something we looked for excuses to keep doing as long as possible. The idea of actually getting paid to do so seemed like an impossible dream.

Anyone with a gig as writing for the Lonely Planet must surely have been a better writer, a more intrepid and knowledgeable traveller, and a more determined self-marketer than us, we assumed. What bitter irony to find that they were employing some clown who didn't even want the job.

To add insult to injury the article reports that: "Lonely Planet has conducted a review of all Mr Kohnstamm's guide books, but says it has failed to find any inaccuracies in them". One wonders whether the 'review' involved visiting the countries in question.

[and let's just try and ignore the extra little insult in the AAP article which twice refers to 'Columbia' -- I'm presuming here that they didn't publish a guide to a New York university].


Susan said...

perhaps that's why they didn't find any inaccuracies - because if they couldn't spell the name of the country what hope would there have been of them knowing anything else about it - or maybe that's unfair and it was the journalist's mistake. Whatever - a serious blow to the credibility of Lonely Planet - will be looking for anything but them next time. Another case of getting too big to maintain quality I think

Paola said...

"Lonely Planet has conducted a review of all Mr Kohnstamm's guide books, but says it has failed to find any inaccuracies in them". Tal vez ellos no lograron encontrar incosistencias, pero yo si! lo que evidentemente demuestra que hasta la niña que trabaja en el consulado no estaba, del todo, bien informada. Aquí enumero tres de ellas:
1. La Catedral de Sal Y Villa de Leyva no estan al norte de Colombia. Estan al norte de Bogotá.
2. Desde hace unos años las monedas de 1000 pesos salieron de circulación y se dejaron solo los billetes de dicha denominación.
3. En las fotos de los trancones son evidentes los buses "verdes" o "cebolleros", que hace años dejaron de andar por las calles. Y si Thomas Kohnstam habla de Transmilenio... dónde quedaron las fotos de ese sistema de transporte?

Simon Bidwell said...

aja! bien investigada! parece que tienes una copia de dicha Lonely Planet a mano...pues, no sé si es peor el engaño del chico, o la despreocupación de la compañía por los errores....

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