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Plagiarism Plague Spreads to the ‘African Executive’

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Did one of the sacked Nation journalists manage to score a position at the African Executive? Only they now seem to have succumbed to the same disregard for copyright and attribution that infected the Nation Media Group (NMG) last year.

The Temple 3 blog posted an article on Martin Luther King on January 20th 2009 that had previously been published. The same article appears verbatim at the African Executive website, with only an extra picture to illustrate the article. While there is a link to Temple 3, it appears that the AE editors did not seem permission before publishing on their own site, nor did they even bother to get a proper author name. Not very executive behaviour, in my opinion.

I’ve recently had cause to question the editorial standards of the African Executive, and this latest episode only reaffirms my misgivings. It is one thing to find an article on the internet that you think might be a good fit for your publication; it is quite another, however, to lift it and try to pass it off as a submission in good faith. Once again, it seems that Kenyan media houses have little regard for journalistic standards or integrity.

People blog and place their work on the internet because they want it to be read. Nevertheless, that does not mean they are happy for those who read it and appreciate it to disseminate it without permission or proper attribution. Not even with a Creative Commons licence. Sadly, it seems that Kenyan journalists are either so overworked or so lacking in initiative and with such lax standards that they are willing to disregard basic courtesy in an effort to fill their pages.

Bloggers, the only piece of advice I can offer is to make good use of Copyscape. Check it often to make sure that your work is not making an unexpected appearance without your permission. If you do find that you’re a victim of an unscrupulous hack, contact them and their editors to get the work taken down. If they refuse, then spread the word and make sure as many people as possible are made aware of the situation. I’d be more than happy to point out anything you find over here, and to spread the word myself. Media houses may have more resources, but we bloggers have greater numbers. Let’s take the fight to them, and get our content back.

[Image by MassDistraction]

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6 Comments

  1. Hello INARI MEDIA Team,

    Many thanks for bringing the issue of publishing without permission and plagiarism to our attention. I have taken this matter up and I would like to assure the blogging community and any other publisher for that matter that I am treating this issue with my team with the seriousness it deserves.

  2. Inari says:

    That’s all very well, Mr. Shikwati, but the real question is why did it happen in the first place? Somebody, somewhere in your organisation thought it would be perfectly fine to lift an article wholesale from a blog without seeking the author’s permission. Not only that, but their editor then approved this action and decided to publish.

    As I said, bloggers don’t have a problem with their work reaching a wider audience. What we do have a problem with is people republishing our work without informing us and portraying it as a genuine submission.

    But thank you for keeping us apprised. I do hope you’ll come back and inform us of what action you’ve taken to ensure that such slip-ups don’t happen again.

  3. Temple3 says:

    Inari:

    Thanks for your contributions here. It’s much appreciated. My work has been removed from the Commentary page on the African Executive website.

    As an FYI — I thought you should know that the AllAfrica.com website is published by the Council on Foreign Relations. As such, their focus is on perpetuating the image of “Africa in perpetual crisis.” I still read their articles, but with a grain of salt. The site may be called All Africa, but its not All African.

  4. Inari says:

    Hey! Glad to help, and I hope the situation has been resolved to your satisfaction.

    AllAfrica.com are another bunch of aggregators. I don’t think they publish any original material at all, do they? I can’t remember reading any recently.

    I’m not overly concerned with the slant that publications put on their output – everyone has a bias. As long as one reads with a critical eye, it’s easy enough to avoid the most blatant propaganda. I’m far more concerned with original content!

  5. Temple3 says:

    I hear you. The concern, on my part, is that most eyes are not aware of these nuances and can be led to believe things which are patently false. The intent of these aggregators is to mask that this is what they actually do.

    ESPN is an aggregator, but it bills itself as the World Wide Leader in sports. AllAfrica is essentially seeking to do the same thing. With that said — you are entirely correct. We all have our biases.

    Thanks again.

  6. Inari says:

    Not a problem. We like to help out over here. Good luck with your blog!

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