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Woody Paige Apologizes for 'Mistake' in Lifting Quotes from Sports Business Journal

Woody Paige of The Denver Post and ESPN’s Around the Horn apologized Tuesday for lifting quotes and descriptions without attribution from an April article in Sports Business Journal that were included in Paige’s Sunday column in The Denver Post.

“It was not done maliciously or to take credit for something I didn’t do,” Paige told Michael Roberts of Denver Westword Blogs. However, he adds, “It was my mistake.”

In his April 4 article, John Ourand of Sports Business Journal wrote about ESPN creator Bill Rasmussen.

Many executives that came in contact with Rasmussen during ESPN’s infancy reference that can-do spirit. Paul Maxwell, a cable industry pioneer who founded several industry trade publications, said Rasmussen’s faith in ESPN provided a stark contrast to how others viewed the startup network at the time.

Maxwell recalls sitting in an Anaheim, Calif., bar with cable industry icon Bill Daniels, who helped convince Getty Oil to fund ESPN in the early years. It was right after Getty had invested in ESPN, probably 1980. Evey, the Getty Oil executive responsible for overseeing the network, approached the duo, with a look of worry on his face. He asked, “Are we ever going to make money?”

“It was the first thing he asked Bill,” Maxwell said. “Bill knew it would work. We both thought it was brilliant.”

In Paige’s original column, he lifted quotes and a setting description directly from Ourand’s story without attribution.

In an Anaheim, Calif., bar (near a theme park), Daniels was told by a Getty Oil executive about the venture’s problematical plans. Daniels had persuaded the company to buy a majority share of ESPN.

Stuart Evey was concerned Getty Oil had made a mistake. “The first thing he asked Bill was: ‘Are we ever going to make money?’” Colorado cable pioneer Paul Maxwell said. “Bill knew it would work. We both thought it was brilliant.”

Ourand became aware of this and sent Paige a question on Twitter: “Hey @woodypaige. Did you really talk to Paul Maxwell? Or did you lift that quote from SBJ? Bad form to not list source.”

Paige and/or The Denver Post responded by adding the following statements in bold.

Stuart Evey was concerned Getty Oil had made a mistake. “The first thing he asked Bill was: ‘Are we ever going to make money?’” Colorado cable pioneer Paul Maxwell told the Sports Business Journal. “Bill knew it would work. We both thought it was brilliant.”

Note: This column has been updated from its print version to include an attribution.
Paige gave this explanation to Roberts of Denver Westword Blogs:

“(The editors of The Denver Post and I) agreed that the columns would be shorter, and my column was about six inches too long,” he says. “So I cut six inches — and in the final column I turned in, I improperly, incorrectly and unprofessionally cut the attribution to the Sports Business Journal.

“I knew Bill Daniels and wrote about him,” he continues. “He was a friend, and he told me about that stuff — but I didn’t have a direct quote. So doing my due diligence, I found that quote from Mr. Maxwell, who I knew was from Denver, and I thought it added to the fact that Bill Daniels was very instrumental in helping ESPN, and also that ESPN was thinking very seriously about moving here years and years ago. So I put it in — but then I screwed up the entire column by not attributing the quote.”

How is he trying to make amends?

“I talked to John (Ourand) and I apologized to him,” Paige allows. “I told him it was a mistake, and he accepted that and said he enjoyed the column.”

In addition, Paige shared the situation with the folks at the Post, “and based on my conversations this morning, there will be a correction run” in the print edition; the online version linked above now includes the proper attribution, as well as a note pointing out the change.

That’s fine by Paige. “I don’t know that I chose to be in this limelight, but I chose to be in this business,” he says. As such, scrutiny over his every word “comes with the territory. And I know better.”

If the explanation is acceptable to Ourand, whose material got swiped, then I guess it ought to be acceptable to the masses.

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