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March 27, 2006
The Scarlet Letters

Apparently the Associated Press thinks that bloggers don't deserve the same protections against plagiarism that they themselves claim for their own work. Larisa Alexandrovna at the Huffington Post got quite a shock when she contacted the AP to complain that they lifted her work on a story regarding security clearances for gays:

On March 14, 2006, the AP did their own article, left out any attribution to me or my publication and lifted not only my research but also whole sections of my article for their own (making cosmetic changes of course).

We contacted an AP senior editor and ombudsmen both and both admitted to having had the article passed on to them, and both stated that they viewed us as a blog and because we were a blog, they did not need to credit us. What we are or are not is frankly irrelevant. What is relevant is that by using a term like blog to somehow excuse plagiarism, the mainstream press continues to lower the bar for acceptable behavior. It need not matter where the AP got the information, research, and actual wording from. What matters is that if they use it in part or in whole, they must attribute properly. A blog or a small press publication or grads students working in the corner of a library all equally deserve credit for their work, period.

After seeing the pillorying that Ben Domenech received -- and rightly so -- for plagiarism, this arrogant dismissal of outright theft by the supposed "professionals" of the mainstream media puts the whole issue in perspective. This implicates not just the AP, one of the world's largest newsgathering organizations, but every client of the AP that runs their stories on their sites and in their newspapers. That includes almost every major newspaper, most if not all broadcasters, and almost all of the media outlet websites.

The familiar AP logo is now a Scarlet Letter. Will the editors of this nation who have bloviated endlessly about the superiority of the Exempt Media's quality checks take a stand against plagiarism? Or will they continue to be complicit in the theft of written material from uncredited sources by buying and publishing AP's material?

UPDATE: Well, do they or don't they? It looks like the AP can't make up its mind, at least according to Jim Lindgren at The Volokh Conspiracy. (via Instapundit)

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 27, 2006 6:03 PM

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