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  • Writer's pictureZach Finkelstein

The Portland Press Herald Plagiarized Our Latest Article. The Paper Denies It, Stands by Writer.

Updated: May 10, 2020

A recent article by Bob Keyes at the Portland Press Herald, entitled 'Choirs may have to remain silent long after society reopens', plagiarized content from Middleclass Artist's latest piece, 'NATS Panel of Experts Lays Out Sobering Future for Singers: "No Vaccine, No Safe Public Singing',

On May 6th at 7:17AM PST, Middleclass Artist posted an article, outlining the latest findings from an educational panel entitled, 'What Do Science and Data Say About the Near Term Future of Singing?'.

A day later, writer Bob Keyes visited Middleclass Artist and signed up for a subscription to our latest updates:

Two days later, Bob Keyes published an article lifting lines directly from our work:

Middleclass Artist's copy and the Facebook intro, shared over 1,000 times:

"In a presentation that sent shockwaves through the singing community, Dr. Lucinda Halstead, the president of the Performing Arts Medical Association and the Medical Director of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of South Carolina, concluded that there is no safe way for singers to rehearse together until there is a COVID-19 vaccine and a 95% effective treatment in place, in her estimates at least 18-24 months away.

...Dr. Halstead and Dr. Donald Milton, an infectious bio-aerosol specialist at the University of Maryland"

Portland Press Herald's copy:

"There is no safe way for singers to rehearse as a group until there is a vaccine and a 95 percent-effective treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and it could be two years before both happen, a national panel of music and medical experts told choral directors this week. That message, delivered in a webinar on Tuesday night, sent shockwaves across the global music community."

...Dr. Lucinda Halstead, president of the Performing Arts Medicine Association and medical director of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of South Carolina, and Dr. Donald Milton, an infectious bio-aerosol specialist at the University of Maryland..."

A number of other striking similarities appear throughout Keyes' article, including the same three takeaways, the order of arguments, out of exact chronological order, and specific quotes that Middleclass Artist used to combine different sections of the research.

Middleclass Artist appreciates the intent of the Portland Press Herald to bring awareness of singers' issues to the broader public and was disappointed by the response from their editorial team to a request for citation and a correction of the record:

"We take any suspicion of plagiarism seriously, and I have discussed your concerns at length with Bob. I am confident that Bob’s writing came directly from his interviews with several people who watched and took notes during the talk (including the person who organized it), all of whom had the same takeaways...He learned about your article from one of the people he interviewed and did not use it a reference when writing his own."


2,513 views4 comments


May 11, 2020

In looking at the timeline, and in comparing the word choice and structure of the two articles, I do not find the Press Herald's denial credible. When Middlelcass Artist raised this issue, Mr. Keyes and the Press Herald had the opportunity to do the right thing. They did not. At a minimum, Mr. Keyes should have attributed the earlier work done by Middleclass Artist. I wanted to post a comment on his article (really, the Middleclass Artist's article) stating as such, but after three people posted comments, the Press Herald has locked the article for commenting.


Zach Finkelstein
Zach Finkelstein
May 11, 2020

Before I move on to my next story, I would like to sum up the facts of the case for the record, now that we have both timelines combined.

The Portland Press Herald argues that the identical copy and near identical structure of the two articles are the result of two reporters on the same beat, a common occurrence in journalism, and that accusations of plagiarism are unwarranted.

Middleclass Artist refutes this argument in the following timeline collected from both Portland Press and our research:

-May 5th: the NATS seminar was broadcast live in the afternoon (MCA attending) and posted on Youtube at roughly 1AM EST on May 6th. The PPH's writer began research that evening. MCA reviewed…


Zach Finkelstein
Zach Finkelstein
May 10, 2020

This is what I think happened based on additional conversations with the editorial team.

The writer used secondary sources only comment from singers and used notetakers for the presentation. My piece went immediately viral directly after the NATS presentation. I know this because I stayed up most of the night and wrote it and published it on May 6 at 8AM. I also know that at least some if not all of the sources he interviewed asking what the key takeaways are read my piece, and said back some of the language I used in the Facebook tag, including phrases from a Facebook Tag shared over 1,000 times, and referencing the exact order of key takeaways that is so strikingly…


May 09, 2020

I agree that the Portland Press should acknowledge their error. You work diligently to provide useful information to the Singer Community, and credit should be given where credit is due.

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