Letters to Romenesko
From JEREMY HSIEH, KTOO news and public affairs producer: After a roughly 4 year hiatus in non-daily journalism, I recently began a job at a public radio/public television job that lets me participate in daily journalism again.
In the last two weeks, I’ve been plagiarized twice on two separate stories that had some national attention, and had a blogger hosted at ADN.com use a photograph without permission with a misattributed credit. In all three instances, I reached out and contacted the publications to address attribution issues.
So far, only the blogger has responded. She promptly pulled the photo, later obtained permission, and put up a similar photo with correct attribution.
The UK’s Daily Mail ripped off a weird news story originated by me from Sept. 24 lifting three direct quotes from my story and adding a number of factual errors.
They only attributed one line to ktoo.org. It does not communicate the lack of firsthand reporting nor the wholesale regurgitation of the original story.
Saturday, a “reporter” from thinkprogress.org cribbed from several stories about of an Alaska Supreme Court case with no explicit attribution for any of his news sources. He also introduced several factual errors, and appears to have done virtually no firsthand reporting. The most egregious copying was of a bulleted list of three questions on which the case hinges without quotes:
The reporter’s bio says he has a master’s degree in journalism. (I just sent the reporter and his editors a note a few hours ago pointing out my concerns, no response yet.)
Has this kind of plagiarism or unattributed/poorly attributed aggregation just become a standard practice in the last 4 years? Are these journalistically acceptable standards for attribution?
From CHRIS AGUILAR: Recently I was the victim of plagiarism. I held a telecommuting position with Journatic out of Chicago. I was doing athlete of the week stories, which the Houston Chronicle farms out to Journatic.
One of the parents was always e-mailing me asking when the story about his son, Hamilton Piret, was coming out. I tried to find out details from editors who dodged and gave vague answers. Finally, on Sept. 12, the father’s neighbor found it and the father e-mailed it to me. It had someone else’s byline — the byline of Mark DeHaven. My editor on this was Dayna DeHaven. I believe they are married. I e-mailed her about it and she told me Mark is athlete of the week editor and there must have been a mix-up in editing.
That is not valid. These are set to be input through a template, so someone took out my name and replaced it with their own. As a solid journalist who believes in our business and ethics, I am letting you know about this.
I did resign, e-mailing three editors [and writing] I would gladly work if I received some sort of apology or an explanation as to why this was done. I have heard nothing from Journatic.
I’ve asked Dayna DeHaven to explain.
Dayna DeHaven forwarded your email to me so I could respond. I am disappointed you posted Mr. Aguilar’s allegations without first getting the facts from us.
In the process of switching to a new editorial content production system, some bylines were excluded from copy. During design, Mr. DeHaven’s byline was attached to this copy because he is the writer who routinely does many of these kinds of stories.
It was not plagiarism. It was the incorrect placement of a byline on a story. This was explained to Mr. Aguilar.
I appreciate that you corrected our name to Journatic on the email that Mr. Aguilar submitted to you. [He wrote Journatics.] The fact that he got it wrong speaks to his abilities as a journalist.
I have more to say but cannot since we do not discuss personnel issues publicly.
Vice President of Media Services