There’s an absolutely fascinating discussion going on in the Norwegian blogosphere. Jan Arild Snoen takes Norwegian broadsheet Aftenposten to task for printing an article by a young Norwegian journalist in its new magazine Innsikt [quite literally, lnsight]. The article borrows large amounts of text from a piece published the UK’s Observer on February 10, 2008.
Snoen lists point for point over twenty pieces of information the Norwegian journalist has lifted from The Observer. Such is Snoen’s detective work that he even tracks down a quote the naive Norwegian has taken straight from the Evening Standard:
Innledningsvis siteres London-kokken Aldo Zilli, som var en av de fÃ¸rste til Ã¥ slutte med flaskevann. Ingen kilde oppgis, sÃ¥ man kan jo forledes til Ã¥ tro at Aâ€“â€“â€“ har snakket med ham. Men alt han siteres pÃ¥ er hentet fra en artikkel i Evening Standard
[...London chef Aldo Zilli, who was one of the first to stop selling bottled water, is quoted. No source is given so you would be forgiven in thinking that Aâ€“â€“â€“ had talked to him. But every word he says is taken from an article in the Evening Standard - My translation]
Olav Anders Ã˜vrebÃ¸, freelance journalist and university lecturer at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, also mentions the incident, and is baffled that Aftenposten hasn’t commented on the matter.
I think there are a number of issues worth noting here: first and foremost, papers don’t have time to verify every piece of copy that comes across the newsdesk. Especially when it cuts across cultures and languages. No doubt the writer was trying to earn her crust and perhaps let her enthusiasm for the story, and the difficulty in tracking sources down, get in the way of solid journalistic praxis. But, let’s face it, she’s not the first journalist to recycle the news. I see this almost on a daily basis in the Swedish press. Often I read something in the British press which surfaces in DN or SvD a few weeks later.
I think the other issue here is that this demonstrates just how the Net (or bloggers!) will find you out if you’ve been a bit of a silly bugger.
Still, I wonder what The Observer make of it all? Especially Lucy Siegel, author of the original article.
Update: 19 November 200
I’ve removed the name of the female Norwegian journalist from this post after she contacted me today. Google was finding this entry too easily and it wasn’t helping her career. Everyone deserves a second chance.