Friday, March 11, 2005

Who us, plagiarize?

For those living in St. John's, there was the little blip that The Telegram fired one of their reporters after discovering he'd used information off web sites in his stories without giving credit. This is a no no and The Telly have sworn up and down that the information was accurate, just not attributed properly.

I'm not going to comment a lot on this. I know who the reporter is, but I'm not going to say his name, even though Canada Now, when reporting the story, did.

Why won't I say anything? Because there are more than a few bloggers out there who have said things they shouldn't have about work and found themselves unemployed as a result. The Telegram and The Express share the same parent company - Transcontinental Media. So I'm not pushing my luck too far.

However, I do have to say one thing. When the story broke, Telegram editor Russell Wangersky went on Radio Noon with Ann Budgell. She was asking questions about the situation and then fired off a question on how serious newspapers take plagerism. Or something along those lines.

I won't pretend to know what was going through Wangersky's mind, but his answer was beautiful. He said that newspaper reporters take plagiarism very seriously and that every one in the province can recall the frustration of hearing one of their stories being read out, verbatim, on local radio and television show.

Oh, it was a beautful zinger. I roared with laughter in the office and the interview got decidedly icier after that. Because Wangersky nailed it in one. Local radio, and to a lesser extent television, are brutal for robbing copy from papers and not attributing it.

It's happened a few times since I came into town, but it happend all the bloody time when I was with The Packet in Clarenville. Because we were the only media for about 100 km in any direction . CBC, VOCM and NTV didn't have a presence in the area. So it was almost a regular occurance that if something was happening in the area, they would "borrow" our copy.

I don't mean we did a story, and then they went and did the same story. I don't care about that. It happens all the time. I'm talking about turning on CBC and hearing the first three paragraphs of one of my stories being read. Without a bloody word being changed. It happened so often with our reporter in Bonavista, Ann Barker, that I told her she should send a freelance receipt to CBC Gander for the number of times her copy was used. Without Attribution.

VOCM is just as bad. All we wanted was a bit of credit. Never happend. We should have complained, I suppose. But I think we were just in shock they would be so brazen about it.

I'm not saying what the reporter with The Telegram did was right. But TV and radio should really watch getting on their high horse about it.

Reporters. We're all bastards, in case you didn't figure that out.

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