S. Renee Greene of Examiner.com Says She Plagiarized Intentionally to Make Point About Low Pay for Writers

Categories: Media, Schmedia

greene renee.jpg
Image: examiner.com
S. Renee Greene, Valley-based writer for examiner.com until Thursday, tells New Times that she plagiarized in her articles to make a point about examiner.com's low pay for writers.

S. Renee Greene, examiner.com freelancer until Thursday, called us Friday to admit she'd plagiarized from New Times, saying she'd done it in protest of the low pay she'd received as a writer for the Examiner website.

Greene reached out to us following our Thursday blog post that called her on clear-cut plagiarism from New Times cover stories. Interspersed in what was apparently original writing, for her examiner.com article Thursday about Jodi Arias, the Valley-based writer had added two paragraphs verbatim from this week's New Times piece on the Arias trial, and her March 11 article borrowed heavily from Monica Alonzo's February 28 article on Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

"I threw that in there to see if they are paying attention," Greene told us. "I don't appreciate having to work for four years without pay."

See also: "S. Renee Greene," Examiner.com Freelancer, Plagiarizes New Times' Jodi Arias and Sheriff Babeu Stories

examiner web site logo.jpg
Examiner.com calls itself a "dynamic entertainment, news and lifestyle network that serves more than 20 million monthly readers" in the U.S. and globally. The website is owned by oil and investment billionaire Phillip Anschutz. About 90,000 "examiners" are paid peanuts to write for the site on all sorts of different topics. As we learned yesterday, the freelancers' work isn't subject to any sort of pre-publication review or editing.

Greene explains that she's written about 300 articles over the past four years, making about $200.

"It makes me angry that I'd do all this research, do all this work, then tell me there's not enough page views for them to send me $50 for doing all that work," Greene says. "I said, 'I'm going to throw some slapped-up crap up there, and plagiarize . . .'"

"I wanted to see if anybody is actually reading my articles," she goes on. "[Anschutz] is a billionaire -- he can afford to pay people."

Justin Jimenez, senior director of content for examiner.com, tells us today that all of Greene's articles have been taken down following the publication of Thursday's Valley Fever blog post.

"She's been removed from our site," he says.

Jimenez declined comment about Greene's accusation of exploiting writers.

The subject isn't unknown to examiner.com: A bit of Googling around unearthed several blog articles that discuss the low pay. A page on writersweekly.com displays apparent reviews of the site and its pay structure, which often boils down to about $2 per article or less, not that some people seem to mind. Blogger "Willow" wrote in 2011 that her experience with examiner.com was less than stellar, with the company allegedly playing "super dirty pool" with policies such as stopping payment on all past articles if a writer fails to publish each month.

It could be that Greene is using the pay issue as a lame excuse for an ethical lapse. A cursory glance at some of her previous articles quickly turned up apparent plagiarism from articles in the Arizona Capitol Times and Arizona Republic. No telling how many times it happened.

But Greene insists she plagiarized "not because I'm trying to steal someone's work -- I'm trying to make a statement."

She's not worried how this affects her writing career: "My concern on that is laid to rest because no one's hiring anyway."

Greene apologized for plagiarizing and says she understands the "seriousness of it." But she's "willing to take the hit."

A prolific user of Twitter for her 17 followers, Greene tweeted today that she "took a political 'hit' to speak out about content mills that don't pay their writers and bloggers decent wages."

"I won't do it again," she tells us.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Hm, I read the comments and the article and all I'm thinking is "Wow. Ignorance is afoot about people's work ethic when the REAL issue here is working for no pay." 

That's tantamount to slavery, something I am sure the people of Arizona approve of wholeheartedly since it allows sheriffs to hire people with criminal histories to carry guns and patrol its schools, loves companies that pay only enough to keep people on welfare regardless of the fact that they work, and has registered a complete zero on the national scale when it comes to education and sophisticated reasoning. And eats the grocery store pickings and packings of illegal Mexican immigrants while simultaneously trying to boot them out of the state for "crimes" when the majority of folks who commit crimes in Arizona did not come from Mexico.

Look over your own fence, people. There are no "illegals crawlin over yo' fences and cummin' fo' yo' gunses."

I got my first job in 1973 when I was 13 years old and have worked for more than 35 years of my life,  most of which I've spent writing (which some folks don't consider as 'real' work anyway, no matter who you write for). 

At this point, I am semi-retired and I write because it's something I've always done. I started working before most of these people were born, so I've paid my dues and then some.

If I'd plagiarized anything before, it would have been caught by now because there are too many resources to catch that kind of thing and I know those resources and how they work...and those couple of articles were up there for only a few hours before "being caught." 

Yet, I've never been accused of it before now, even in digital media, which I started doing in 2004, nearly 10 years ago. As far as writing online in the electronic media: Before AOL, I was. When I started in this business, there was only Compuserve, Genie, and Prodigy, so I don't think anyone is more qualified to do it than I. 

As far as the Examiner is concerned, I worked there for more than four years without pay, while listening to my Union members talk about all of their plans for bringing down the content mills, what they refer to as "writing slave farms." And that it is.

However, this newly digitalized form of slavery, which some billionaires still think they are entitled to these days? 

This isn't about me any more. I could care less, because if I wasn't ready, willing and able to take "the hit," I would not have. I know what plagiarism is and haven't managed to do it in more than 25 years, so I figured, what's the worst that could happen ... I could be fired from a job that doesn't pay. 

Woo. Hoo. BFD all day long. 

It's more amazing to me that folks who have nothing else to do with their time would even bother to comment on it, as if they don't have a job themselves.

No, it's not about me.

It's about the writers who are still paying their dues and not being paid. 

It's about Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, who ran off with $315M after selling out to AOL and without giving her "free bloggers" even so much as a stipend for their years of hard work. It's about places like Demand Media, AOL's "Seed," Yahoo! Associated Content, and all of those other writers who, truth told, are more effective at devaluing the market for all journalists and writers than they are at building up the value of their own personal writing.

There's only so many paying writing jobs to go around anyway, and I don't mean at the piecemeal rate of 2-cents per 500-words ... http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2010/07/writers-explain-what-its-like-toiling-on-the-content-farm202.html.

What I've learned overall is not that people aren't hiring for the few jobs that are out there, but that the journalists out here better protect their field by making sure content mills like The Examiner and Yahoo and Demand Media and the others become defunct, and with a quickness. 

The newspapers that folded weren't prepared for electronic media and were over-confident, and the next news is that some of those "unpaid citizen journalists" out there are better writers than the ones with paying jobs. 

It's gotten so bad that people who have been writing longer than me (and my 25-plus years) said they get better news reports out of bloggers than they do today's mainstream media. Yeah. Ouch. For real.

BTW, I didn't "get caught." I caught what I wanted to catch the way I wanted to catch it. 

Don't be surprised if the Examiner starts rethinking the way they do business .... 

If they don't redraw and start paying writers for their work--especially since they've got the money to do it; just remember that every time you read these mills, you also support 'digital slavery' right here in the USA. 

Take those peanuts home and chew on them while you're busy crying in your beer for modern-day slavery in Ethiopia, or a place most of Arizona doesn't care about ... like the Mexican immigrant farm "slaves" who help you to put dinner on your tables, if you care for veggies and fruit, that is.

The hypocrisy speaks for itself.


That sounds like Mark Kelly buying an AR-15 "to make a point" but only telling people about his activist objectives once he gets caught


Ms Greene says "noone's hiring anyway".  Of course that is false, there are thousands of people who get hired every day.  In Ms Greene's case I suspect she prefers living on welfare and making excuses for why she shouldn't have to work for a living.


Two adults engaging in a transaction.. Ms. Greene, you knew the terms of that transaction when you signed up. Don't like those terms...stop writing, end of story (pun intended). "Punishing" them for a transaction you voluntarily agreed upon is bullshit, if that is even a truthful description of what transpired.


She stole from the Phoenix New Times to protest her "working" for low pay?  Sure you did honey.

What sort of work does a journalist who steals other people's work do?  Do bank robbers work?  Sure, but they aren't in banking business and a "journalist" who steals her work isn't a journalist any more than a copy machine is an author.

A political hit?  Politics has nothing to do with it Ms Greene.  Hopefully anyone who looks into hiring you in the future will do a Google search and think twice before hiring you.  I've met people like you before, they always have an excuse for the naughty things they do.   It's always someone else's fault according the the Ms Greene's of the world.


@azcumsquelcher Uhm, big humongous difference, O Dramatist. Nobody's dead, so it's not the same. Don't compare Apples with AR15s and then try to act like you're smart. It don't work.


@azcumsquelcher Kelly said BEFORE purchasing the gun in an interview wit da press,that this is what he planed! if you don't mind the crackhead  next door with an AR-15.

or the mom that buys a machine gun for her convict son(like I lived next door to)so he could shoot another guy a month later.


@marcy Only a welfare recipient would have time to sit around thinking about folks who "prefer living on welfare." No one else has time.

Get a job. A real one. From one of those companies that hire "thousands of people" every day.

To tell the truth, that word "thousands" is pretty specious itself, especially considering that every time someone says it, they never know what they are talking about; they just toss it around so they can sound important and end up sounding im-potent instead. 

As the so-called Biblemongers say "Chapter and Verse." Bring it.


@JohnQ.Public "The terms of the transaction."

Common hogwash. The terms of the transaction are that slavery is supposed to be illegal in the USA. Address that, not me.

The terms of the transaction are of no consequence when there is a Constitution that allegedly outlawed some time between the late 1700s and mid-1800s.

But thanks for playing. You made my point larger than life with that comment.


@social8 More common typical hogwash.

"Just quit and find another occupation that pays more." ROTFLMAO. That easy, huh?

Do you work for Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan? They actually think the average person in America can borrow money from their parents for college and that the middle class makes at least $250k a year.

How many people do you know, period, who make $250k a year? Or are you the owner of the Examiner? LOL.


@marcy Yadda, yadda, pinata.

I see and read regurgitated mess all day long, the names of which organizations I would not tell on, but could easily pull examples if I cared to do so. 

But if you're playing along and have nothing better to do with your time, then you apparently know a lot about stealing. More than I ever would know. God's got a reason and this is the season.

Bank robbers ... what in the world does a bank robber have to do with anything? That might be a social harm and detriment to me; but certainly not a bank-emptying one that took anyone else's funds with or without a weapon.

Overplay on the words. 

Anyone who is stupid enough to use a "google search" to hire someone needs to think twice about being in business.


@marcy Agreed! So she's saying she "worked" for them for four years, made 200 bucks, and suddenly after the first three years of only getting $50 a year she suddenly threw her arms up in protest as if it blindsided her?? Gimme a break. She's a thief and she got caught and now just made the situation a whole lot worse for herself by this lame @ss excuse. Good for Examiner in firing her, good for the New Times in calling her out. Not only will no one ever hire her to write again, I have to believe any employer would think twice if this is the type of unethical behavior they can expect.


@reneegede @azcumsquelcher I guess I don't understand what you're saying and maybe you don't either. My comparison isn't between firearms and plagiarism. It's about Renee Greene and Mark Kelly getting caught red-handed and coming up with nearly the same excuse: "um, well, I did it to make a point." 


@azcumsquelcher @reneegede Oh I got it alright.

It was overkill.

It was of no consequence to Mark Kelly, I am certain that his life will go on and no one is dead.

It is of no consequence to me. I'm long retired and beyond giving much of a flying eff what anyone thinks any more.

I'm over it, as I said. 

Too old to care, especially since it has no long-term impact on me or anything going on in my world.

If I were a younger person and had a reason to care, I would; but I don't. Like I said ... nobody's dead. Not even you.

You can find another playpen to play in now. Thanks.

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault