Western Mass. Recipe Mag Cooks Up An Internet Frenzy

Published November 5, 2010

A college student 40-year-old woman named Monica Gaudio says Cooks Source, a freebie cooking magazine in the western Mass. town of Sunderland, stole her story on apple pie recipes straight from the Web.

On her blog, Gaudio called out the magazine for plagiarism and published a (breathtaking) response she says she received from Judith Griggs, the editor of Cooks Source.

The Internet jumped to Gaudio’s defense, overwhelming the Cooks Source Facebook page with numerous past examples of the magazine’s apparent plagiarism — including an NPR story about ice cream. (See the original and the magazine version.)

Now some Cooks Source advertisers, mostly local businesses, are withdrawing their ads and asking the Internet to be kind to them, say they knew nothing of the magazine’s journalistic malpractice.

The Cooks Source Facebook page as of 1:13 p.m.

The Cooks Source Facebook page as of 1:13 p.m.

Gaudio says the overwhelming publicity (Boing Boing, Reddit, Gawker, NPR…) broke her e-mail.

But here’s where it gets confusing: Gaudio now says she has received “no personal contact from Cooks Source.” (I have since interviewed Gaudio; I misunderstood.)

A person purporting to be Griggs, the magazine editor, responded on Facebook — “Well, here I am with egg on my face!” —  but Gaudio wonders if that’s fake.

Here is an excerpt of the e-mail Gaudio says she received from Griggs, the Cooks Source editor — the e-mail that started the frenzy:

…honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence [sic] and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!

In the e-mail, the magazine editor acknowledges it was “my bad” and that she was probably just tired.

I’ve reached out to Monica Gaudio to see if I can get the full story, and my colleague has tried calling Cooks Source. Until then, you can judge for yourself — the Internet already has.

Update: I interviewed Monica Gaudio and wrote about it here.