Britain's Daily Mail Rips Off SF Weekly Cover Story

Categories: Media
uvisacover.jpg
SF Weekly's U visa story, for all your churnalism needs.
Browsing our Google alerts this morning, we came across an eerily familiar story about U visas -- "The 'crime visa': How 18,000 illegal immigrants got legal status by being the victim of crime." Oh, wait: This was actually our cover article on U visas, shamelessly ripped off and plastered on the website of the wildly successful British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail.

This is an example of "churnalism" at its most depraved -- the story's byline reads only "Daily Mail Reporter," as if the anonymous hack couldn't bear to fess up to his or her lack of originality. The article proceeds to rephrase our sentences, lift our quotes verbatim, and even write snappy sidebars about the visa-seeking San Francisco-based immigrants -- Rosa Aguilar and Adolfo Lopez, you've gone international! -- profiled in our original story.

Check out our story versus theirs for yourself: There is absolutely no original reporting in the entire Daily Mail piece. Apparently the reporter thought he or she was absolved via a quick "SFWeekly.com reports" in the 18th paragraph. No link or anything. Wow, thanks.

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Hmm....

"I think a lot of people are trying to figure out what responsible attribution looks like online," says Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, a journalism ethics think tank. "Linking is one of the simplest and oldest strategies. ... I think the reason you might not link is you don't want to call attention to how close your version is to the one you're linking to. It may be a sign that someone knows that they're pirating the work."

Uh huh. This is isn't the first time the tabloid has been taken to task for cannibalizing another paper's story. Poynter's Jim Romenesko called the Mail out last month regarding one of its story's glaring similarities to a New York Times piece regarding the danger of using electronic devices during airplane flights. Poynter's headline? "Someone call the Plagiarism Police on the Daily Mail!" Hear, hear! 

But wait -- there's more! The blog Tabloid Watch pointed out the obvious similarities between a Daily Mail story and a 2010 Los Angeles Times article about Dick Van Dyke's appearance in a stage adaptation of Mary Poppins. At least Daily Mail reporter Chris Johnson signed off on that one. Once again, the LA Times got mentioned -- buried in the 10th paragraph. Again, no link.   

It seems U visas are a topic that appealed to the paper's conservative, anti-immigrant editorial stance; the Mail's editors have been called to answer in the past by the British Parliament's human rights committee about critical coverage of asylum seekers.

But it's one thing to like the doggy in the window, and another to abscond with it and walk it down the street like you own it. Yet Clark says the traditional courtesies of journalism ethics have been mangled in the Wild West of the web: "One of the way [the Wild West ethos] endures is inviting people to kidnap the work of others without even the courtesy of a thank you or a link."

C'mon, guys: All we're asking for is some link love and heavy attribution high up in the story. Then go ahead and take what you want. To borrow a British expression, what the Mail did -- it's just not cricket.


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38 comments
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doc the rock
doc the rock

Sorry mate but that's how British journalism works...When that story broke in the USA about a American doing this and all the newspaper were all crying that it was the end of journalism as we know, that he should be shot (exaggeration) etc...all the Brit journalists were laughing their socks off... because we rip each others stuff off all of the time.That's why say, when the Daily Mail has a really good exclusive story by the second editions it is on the front page of every single other tabloid here with the tag exclusive! We call them spoilers...And when something has a Daily Blah Reporter byline...that's means it isn't their original copy.In Britain the Sunday national newspapers and the regional Sunday press set the week's agenda...then on Monday the dailies just fill their first editions with stories from them...and that includes newspapers such as the Guardian, The Telegraph, Times etc (so why a poster on here who says he's a journalist is trying to paint it just the Mail is beyond me - and also, and I'm not a fan of the Mail, you can easily say the same of the Guardian but from a different viewpoint ie - anyone who disagrees with climate change, socialism and political correctness is evil etc etc ad naseum...basically anyone who disagrees with the Guardian's self-appointed smug "saintly" viewpoint. That's a typical left-wing attack - you don't agree with my view point therefore you are "nasty"...mate everyone is entitled to a viewpoint and by the readership figures more people agree with the Mail than agree with the Guardian!).I don't know enough about USA journalism but the same thing seems to happen with your TV news stations...they just rip each other off as well.And I've never ever heard it called the Daily Fail...which would be a bit ridiculous considering how many readers it actually has say compared to left wing newspapers such as the Guardian and Independent...which are tiny in comparison (However - its the Guardian which has the biggest number of unique users not the Mail. The Guardian has a really good, clean crisp website). And I wouldn't even attempt to sue the Mail...they'll destroy you by tying you up in the courts until you go bankrupt...Right I'm off the bed...please spot all the litorials you like...I've been writing since 5am this morning and now 2.30am here so I can't be bothered correcting grammar et al...

Loveit
Loveit

Last weeks, SF Weekly 'aqua peace dove cover' was terrific, no wonder they wanted it

JPD
JPD

You think that is bad? The Daily Fail supported Adolf Hitler in the 1930s.

Quent
Quent

Funny that - Germany prosecuted the Second World War between 1939 and 1944 too, with the whole country following Hitler's orders. Is that bad too? Or are you just a historically naieve five year old?

emct
emct

You're asking for fairness from the Daily Mail??? I wouldn't give the right wing comic houseroom!

Merzing
Merzing

It's been going on forever. In the business it's called "scalping". They were just too obvious.Editor handing newspaper story to young reporter: "Here, scalp this to about 700 words."

Dylan Pank
Dylan Pank

American Press, meet your British counterparts, or as we like to call them The Evil Hordes of Mordor!

The Daily Fail thing is true, started I think by Photoshop Disasters where the Fail was a regular presence thanks to the frequent and generally appalling image manipulation that they were publishing.

If you think the Mail is bad (and yes, it is bad, ), wait till you get a load of the Daily Star and the News of the World. They make the Fail look like the New York Times!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Be proud, sister paper: they've done it to us, as well!

Joe
Joe

The Mail is absolute hate mongering fascist bull shit. I wouldn't be too offended if I were you.

Trish  Abelson
Trish Abelson

I live in the UK and I call it the Daily Fail. It fails (for me) because it tracks stories that support it's own view often based on -ve sterotype . I wouldn't be at all surprised if they employ someone to trawl the world's press for stories to adapt. Ugh ! Thoroughly disreputable.

Foo
Foo

Check out all the other articles written by the prolific 'Daily Mail Reporter' each one as dodgy as the last!

Adam
Adam

Please sue! That hate filled sh*t rag deserves all it gets.

Brit
Brit

On behalf of the United Kingdom I would like to apologise for the Daily Mail (aka the Daily Fail, Daily Heil and others). It's an appalling rag that scrapes the barrel in so many ways.

Rudolph K
Rudolph K

What a witty turn of phrase. Daily Heil! Ho, ho, ho.Chortle, chortle....I laughed so much my sides started to hurt!.........Are you available for children's parties?

StuartR
StuartR

Reading the Daily Mail is akin to spending 30 minutes in a mental institution. Like Fox News on paper.

David Calder
David Calder

The Daily Mail, much like several other tabloids, is an embarrassment for us free-thinking Brits. Their sole purpose is to make middle-class Britain angry about the state of the world. In fact, it's probably doing more for the pensions deficit than anything else.

Hirem Weinburger
Hirem Weinburger

'Free-thinking Brits'! Ha - that's a contradiction in terms, limey. You're practically communists.

AA
AA

I (and half the decent, intelligent part of the UK population) wouldn't wipe my butt with the "daily fail" as we call it over here...worthless newspaper...and I use that term "news" lightly!

Rolfman
Rolfman

Your massive behind would need a lot more than a tabloid newspaper to wipe it clean, mate.

Lisa Gray
Lisa Gray

Funny how the people who really hate the Mail are the ones who go on about it all the time! LOL! And you consider yourself to be 'decent and inteligent' too, do you? Modest too, eh.....

Gordon Main
Gordon Main

Actually AA is a frustrated little internet poster, and by no means representative of Great Britain. So there.

UK-Journo
UK-Journo

No one in the UK calls the Daily Mail the Daily Fail. It is a nasty, hateful publication for nasty hateful people obsessed only with house prices, the peril of immigrants and asylum seekers, the royal family and whatever everyday thing they think causes cancer this week. But no one calls it that.

The Daily Heil or the Daily Hate Mail, I've heard, but not that.

This is not a one off. Don't feel special. They saw a story about immigration. With alarming headline numbers. And took it because it would get hits. That is not one journalist being lazy. It is a systemic policy. One that has made them the UK's biggest (in terms of unique users and page impressions) newspaper website. They are experts in manipulation SEO, this kind of plagiarism and editorial that consists of celebrity gossip, outrageous claims about issues of the day - they ran a story last week linking the disaster in Japan to astrology - and speculation around sports and entertainment.

They are the embodiment of everything that is wrong with digital journalism. We all suffer. But they are only successful because they are giving the people what they want. That is the most depressing part of it all. The idiots are winning. If they haven't already won.

UKbore
UKbore

Nasty, is it? HOW shocking.....you must be very upset. Have a lie down.

Jeanny
Jeanny

Ohhhhh......somebody got out of bed the wrong side today! Your upper lip must be trembling so hard that it's about to fall off......

tom dissonance
tom dissonance

i'm from the UK and most people i know call it the Daily Fail. maybe it's a generational thing.

Dan
Dan

Loads of people in the UK call the Daily Mail the Daily Fail.

Sam
Sam

Yeah, all the cretins with nothing better to do but obsess about a successful newspaper.

tom dissonance
tom dissonance

James C. (i can't reply to you directly, for some reason): yes, they really do. Google it. 95,200 hits. some noise, but two of the top four results are from blogs specifically set up to critique the Daily Mail, and a third is actually the paper's own website.

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

Maybe the Bay Guardian can sue them, too.

KH
KH

Do you Americans do anything but sue people? You are all money mad!

McAdam
McAdam

They also invade and/or bomb people and export their horrible fast food, obnoxious accents, and increasingly rotten TV and films. Just saying...(I'm Irish before anyone has a go..)

h. brown
h. brown

Great story Loren,

But watch tossing those stones from the spot where your staff first insulted me and called me a liar on my work on David Chiu's 'Grassroots Enterprises' and then copied half of my material and called it their own. Or, Erin's damn near verbatim rip-off of a front page Chronicle story on ... what was that?

Hey, I understand. But, you should feel honored. No-talent leaches don't steal bad material. It they're at all discerning, they steal only the best. Your piece was the best.

Speaking of Buster Posey,

h.

Billbo
Billbo

Not really a 'great story' is it? It's just internet nonsense. No-one cares. Give it up, loser.

Nico
Nico

'Great story' ! Really? A fourth division 'journalist' going on about how a story which appears on a site which no-one has never heard of appearing on a blog site which everyone reads but pretends not to. Pathetic.

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