April 3rd, 2006

Plagiarism in the Media

I ran into an interesting post by the Sassy Lawyer on how the Associated Press had refused to credit a blog from which they copied a story. The blog article in question, titled “US quietly tightens access to classified information”, was prepared by Larisa Alexandrovna and John Byrne of The Raw Story, an alternative news site focusing on injustices happening in the world that would have been typically ignored by the mainstream media.

As Ms. Alexadrovna puts it, an enormous amount of research and cross checking had been poured into that article. But the Associated Press thought that it would be fine to lift portions of Alexadrovna’s and Byrne’s work and make it their own. The authors had contacted the AP demanding proper attribution, but the respectable news organization brushed them off saying that there was no need for such because “they viewed them as a blog”. What the heck is that supposed to mean? That bloggers are not credible enough sources to deserve credit for their hard work? The AP, or, more aptly, Associated Plagiarists, was caught red-handed and too ashamed to admit fault, a fault that is usually seen as very much taboo in the industry of professional media.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer isn’t exactly the poster child for proper attribution either. In a Lifestyle section article featuring a winning recipe for yema by James Ceniza, highly-photoshopped images were also shown, that, apparently, were swiped from two Filipino food blogs, Market Manila and The Pilgrim’s Pots and Pans. The PDI had removed the pictures and issued an erratum to properly credit the owners. What really irks me is how they failed to even bother knowing where Ceniza got his photos. In fact, Ceniza, judging from his comments, doesn’t seem that computer-savvy (or intelligent) to have been able to edit the images on his own. He even claims that he doesn’t have a computer and is not able to read blogs. So who took those images? Did he have the gall or instinct to ask another fellow to do it for him? I doubt.

Incidentally, Leo Magno of the PDI views bloggers and podcasters as ‘disruptive’. He labels them as gatecrashers who “tear the pinata” at a party that is traditional media. Do I sense a little sour graping here? We ain’t going anywhere Mr. Magno, so watch your back!

Bloggers should be more vigilant in protecting their work from copycats, no matter how big they are or small. The AP should be slapped around with a trout until they realize that plagiarizing other’s ideas isn’t cool — and that bloggers should be given utmost respect.

Posted in Blogging, Me


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