Daily Mail slaps Motherboard writer’s byline on story, apparently to avoid plagiarism charges


Merchant tells Romenesko readers what happened and why his byline disappeared:

The Mail emailed our PR department about using a photo the subject of my story‘s family had given me, but never contacted me or anyone else about any other matters. The paper then ran a lengthy “aggregation” that basically recycled the entire story from top to bottom, sans details, in their voice. And they put my byline on the story, shared with the Mail Online’s health editor. Perhaps they’d feared it would be construed as plagiarism given the uncanny structural similarities to my story.

This struck us as a very inappropriate way to credit attribution – it gave the impression that I had actually written those sentences, which I hadn’t, though they were based on ones I’d written previously, which makes the whole situation doubly bizarre. They gave me an authorship credit for a plagiarized version of my own story.

We contacted the Mail, and they agreed to take down the byline and credit me in the text.

* Brian Merchant’s “The girl who would live forever” (motherboard.vice.com)
* Daily Mail’s “The girl who could come back from the dead” (dailymail.co.uk)

Earlier: My year of ripping off the web with Daily Mail Online (gawker.com)

UPDATE: A Vice spokesman sends this email: “To clarify – the Mail was not plagiarizing, but included Brian’s byline as an effort to attribute Brian’s work properly. The UK Communications department had agreed to let the Mail aggregate the piece and a miscommunication resulted in the misattribution.”