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Blooming Prairie editor quits over plagiarism claims

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — The man who quit as editor of the Blooming Prairie paper amid allegations that he plagiarized columns said Thursday that he's out of the newspaper business.

Jon Flatland resigned last week as interim managing editor of The Times of Blooming Prairie after a humor columnist based in Singapore accused him of plagiarizing his columns and those of others.

Asked Thursday whether he committed plagiarism, Flatland told The Associated Press, "Apparently I did but not to the extent they're saying." He also said: "I'm definitely out of the newspaper business. I don't know what I'm going to do."

Rick Bussler, publisher of The Times, said Flatland emailed his resignation before he could fire him. He said Flatland worked for him for only about four months but came with 28 years of experience including former owner of newspapers in North Dakota and as a former president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. Bussler printed a blistering apology to readers this week.

"Flatland has disgraced this newspaper, this community and the entire newspaper industry," the publisher wrote.


Bussler said he was out of town when he got an email last Wednesday from writer Dave Fox saying he discovered from Googling his columns that Flatland had stolen not just his work, but items by at least a dozen other writers as well. He said Flatland left the office quickly after one of the other writers called that day to confront Flatland directly.

Flatland was president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association in 2008, said Roger Bailey, the trade group's executive director.

The North Dakota Newspaper Association was founded in 1885 and has 90 members — 10 daily and 80 weekly newspapers. The group will try to look into the allegations, NDNA attorney Jack McDonald said.


Publisher Rick Bussler's apology to readers: http://bit.ly/Ahvcca

Dave Fox's statement on Flatland: http://bit.ly/wvzS6L

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