Friday, September 26, 2008

Pot, kettle. Kettle, pot

Shock outrage horror at Fox News! Mail rips off FOXnews.com Biden story, the frontpage hed proclaims. It's a bit tamer inside:

British tabloid 'borrows' story from FOXnews.com
... but the point is still the same:
"Could Clinton still come back? Internet buzzes with rumours Biden will be replaced by Hillary as Obama's running mate."

That was the headline in Thursday's Daily Mail, a British tabloid that evidently rips off — very, very liberally — other news sources without informing its readers.

One of those sources includes FOXNews.com, which ran a story a day earlier bearing the headline, "Biden Dropping Out? Rumor Thrives on Internet."

People who read the story Thursday in the Mail — and there were many, thanks to a prominent link on the Web site DrudgeReport.com — may have experienced a powerful sense of deja vu.

While the Mail changed a word here and there, by and large it lifted its entire story from FOXNews.com.

Fox proceeds to make a pretty good case for its accusation of a wholesale cut-n-paste job. It's entirely within its rights to do so (and to spend the space on it, even if that seems a bit overblown). Plagiarism is bad, no matter whom it's done to or who does it. But you have to wonder if Fox isn't being a little selective in its outrage. British press habits -- including but not limited to the lifting of other people's stuff without credit -- seem to be just fine with Fox under most circumstances. Let's look back at early July:

Ad Featuring Popular Police Pup
Sparks Anger in Scottish Muslim Communities

Muslims in the Scottish district of Tayside are outraged by the appearance of a wide-eyed, 6-week-old puppy on postcards distributed by the local police force, according to the Daily Mail.

Fox credits the Mail, which (at this remove) appears to have reported the story in print July 2 and online July 1:
Muslims outraged at police advert
featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat

A postcard featuring a cute puppy sitting in a policeman's hat advertising a Scottish police force's new telephone number has sparked outrage from Muslims.

Tayside Police's new non-emergency phone number has prompted complaints from members of the Islamic community.


The choice of image on the Tayside Police cards - a black dog sitting in a police officer's hat - has now been raised with Chief Constable John Vine.


Pretty straightforward, eh?

... Dundee councillor Mohammed Asif said: 'My concern was that it's not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards.'

'It was probably a waste of resources going to these communities.'

Starting to wonder why we haven't seen a time element yet? I wonder if there's a relationship to this graf, from the Courier ("Taking you to the heart of Tayside and Fife"), also dated July 1:

Dundee councillor Mohammed Asif said last night, “My concern was that it’s not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards. It was probably a waste of resources going to these communities."

Hmm. Vanishing time element. Deixis sometimes gets shaved in the editing process to reinforce the value of timeliness (that's from Allan Bell's cool research into how news language works). Want to see some more?

Courier: Councillor Asif, who is a member of the Tayside Joint Police Board, said that the force had a diversity adviser and was generally very aware of such issues.

He raised the matter with Mr Vine at a meeting of the board yesterday. The chief constable said he was unaware of the concerns, that the force had not sought to cause any upset and that he would look into it.

Daily Mail: Councillor Asif, who is a member of the Tayside Joint Police Board, said that the force had a diversity adviser and was generally very aware of such issues.

He raised the matter with Mr Vine at a meeting of the board.

The chief constable said he was unaware of the concerns and that the force had not sought to cause any upset but added he would look into the matter.

Can you say "Sweetheart, get me rewrite"?

Courier
: A police spokesman said last night, “Trainee police dog Rebel has proved extremely popular with children and adults since being introduced to the public, aged six weeks old, as Tayside Police’s newest canine recruit."

Daily Mail: A spokesman for Tayside Police said: 'Trainee police dog Rebel has proved extremely popular with children and adults since being introduced to the public, aged six weeks old, as Tayside Police's newest canine recruit.

From the available evidence, we can't conclusively establish temporal precedence,* though the indications are that the Mail report is later. Another of Bell's points is that news doesn't get less newsy in the editing process; it'd make sense if "complaints" in the Courier lede became "outrage" in a later lede, but not for "outrage" to be toned down to "complaints. And I don't know if the two papers have some sort of corporate relationship or whether the story's origin is off somewhere else in the mists of Fife. But it certainly seems from here that Fox doesn't normally have a problem with plagiarism-by-Mail, as long as it it furthers the party line about Those People and doesn't step on Fox's own strikingly original idea of rewriting rumors from Blog World.

* If any agents in Tayside have been stashing away their copies of the Courier all summer, now's the time to raise your hands.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous LisaMc said...

How does one e-mail you a story? (Your address on the home page bounced)

11:13 PM, September 26, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

Ack! Apologies. Compuserve is finally banished from our lives; see new addy at right. It's 'vulteef' with the gmail-dot-com stuff, or the same name at the campus address [wayne-dot-edu]

11:36 PM, September 26, 2008  
Blogger Azrolboyz said...

thanks for sharing
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10:03 AM, September 27, 2008  
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