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Associated Content Removes Controversial Writer From Site After Fox News Debacle

By Paul Bright     May 4, 2007 in Internet
Ham sandwich terrorism isn't news, it's parody and satire. Fox didn't get it, but Associated Content now does.
Associated Content, one of the web's leading pay-for-writing websites, has removed all the work of Content Producer Nicholas Plagman after a false publication of his made it to the Fox News airwaves. Plagman, author of over 150 articles on the site and known for his highly-satirical work, published a story based on a real-life incident that took place in a Maine school house. Plagman learned that at Lewiston Middle School in Lewiston, Maine,a white student placed a ham steak at a table of Somali students, who were Muslim. The act was intended to offend the Muslim students since ham is considered unclean to them. This article was published in the local paper called The Sun Journal.
Plagman took the story, rearranged bits and pieces, and imbeded false quotes from students and the principal in charge. He then submitted HIS version of the story to Associated Content under the "Exclusive", "For Pay" and "Breaking News" categories, which pays $5 for a breaking news article and is published much faster than the normal 5 to10 business day time frame. According to Plagman, he did this so he could "get paid faster" instead of having to wait around.
The problem was, however, that the story cited Associated Press as a source and was published in the News category and not the humor category, thus lending it credibility. Fox News picked up this report assuming it was real news and broadcast it on it's show Fox and Friends, reading it out loud. They even miscategorized Associated Content as a site like "The Onion", a famous, satirical news website.
The story created tens of thousands of pageviews which lead to bonus money for Content Producers such as Plagman. Associated Content, also benefiting from the traffic despite the bad publicity, initially kept the story on the site and re-categorized it as "humor". However, many of the site's content producers voiced their opinion against the story because of the bad publicity and the fact that Plagman had intentionally submitted it in the wrong category for monetary purposes, thus insulting the integrity of all the writers. Associated Content eventually agreed and removed Plagman's story and all his published works on 1 May.
The website published this statement:
"Our initial decision to reinstate the CP was not based on monetary or page view considerations, but out of an effort to give the CP a second chance. However, after reexamining the issue, and getting feedback from the Content Producer community, we have decided to ban the offending CP and take down all of his content, including the article in question. The Performance Bonus will be donated to charity. "
For now, the general consensus is that, although Plagman was seen as a talented writer,his fellow content producers felt he was wrong in purposefully misrepresenting himself and his work. But they also have a sense of humor, too, as many writers have produced non-paying tributes to the Plagman controversy
More about Associated content, Fired writer, Content producer
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