Buser’s Column Stolen from Grape Office

Maxwell Cohn, Editor-in-Chief of The Grape

I enjoyed reading last week’s column on computer recycling at Oberlin (“Computer Recycling Thrives on Campus, for Now,” The Oberlin Review, Nov. 15, 2013) written by Mr. Paul Buser. Well researched and written — precisely the kind of piece I’d like to find in The Grape more often.

Which reminds me of when I pitched this exact story at a Grape meeting in October. My memory also tells me that Mr. Buser signed up for it. Days after the Grape deadline, Mr. Buser said he couldn’t find time to write it.

I’m forgiving when someone can’t commit to an article. Usually it’s just a matter of assigning it to another writer or printing it in a later issue. But when articles that are conceived in the Grape office go missing and turn up elsewhere? That’s lousy form.

Creating news stories on a tiny campus is difficult. It’s one of the hardest parts of running a newspaper at Oberlin. Instances like this turn a rewardingly tough job into a frustrating one.

I contacted Mr. Buser via email explaining this. He replied: “I am sorry I caused you frustration over this article. I realized while writing it that I wanted to publish it in the Review, and I went ahead and submitted it without thinking about the consequences.”

However considerate an apology, I’m afraid Mr. Buser missed the point.

The idea was not Mr. Buser’s to begin with. Let’s pretend, however, that it was Mr. Buser’s idea. In this case it would have been perfectly fine for Mr. Buser to have had an epiphany midway into his writing and gone, “Woah — this is a Review article.”

But the idea was mine. It wasn’t a particularly inventive idea, but it was mine nonetheless. In turn, Mr. Buser had absolutely no business in deciding where it best belonged. If Mr. Buser wishes to have such freedoms, I encourage him to come up with his own articles.

Mostly I’m insulted that Mr. Buser believed such a gesture might go unnoticed. While The Grape entertains a “competitive” relationship with the Review, at times insinuating that no living students read it, we do not pretend to assume its status as the college’s authoritative news source. In short, The Grape reads the Review. Cover to cover. Every week. If Mr. Buser wishes to hide stolen material from The Grape in the future, I would recommend that he publish someplace other than the Review.