Daily Mail accused of plagiarising from Slate Magazine

American journalist David Plotz, who writes for Slate Magazine, has noticed a curious similarity between an article from his magazine and the Daily Mail:

Is the Daily Mail hacking Slate's phones, or just plagiarizing from us? Our story: http://slate.me/nqp7dm. story: http://bit.ly/ppXBmS

Here’s the Slate article, which was published on Monday:

Knocked Up and Knocked Down - Why America's widening fertility class divide is a problem.

And here’s the Daily Mail’s article, which was published early this morning:

The have-none and the have-too many: Fertility rate masks hidden class-divide timebomb

Although the Mail’s headline may look fairly original, here’s a sentence from the Slate article that might have served as an inspiration for it:

You hear about the “haves” versus the “have-nots,” but not so much about the “have-one-or-nones” versus the “have-a-fews.”

When compared side-by-side, there are a number of other striking similarities. Indeed, according to Churnalism.com, 2,537 characters overlap and as much as 89% of Roberts’ piece was copied from Slate.

For example, here’s a sentence from the opening paragraph of Sharon Lerner’s Slate article:

But here’s the problem: Because the American fertility rate is an average, it obscures the fact that our country is actually more like two countries, which are now experiencing two different, serious crises.

And here’s a few of the opening sentences from Hannah Roberts’ Mail aricle:

But the misleading figure is disguising a growing fertility class divide in the United States.

The US is like two countries, which are experiencing two different, serious crises, two new studies show.

Here’s Lerner again:

Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor women into sharp relief. One, from the Guttmacher Institute, shows that the rates of unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women now dwarf the fertility rates of wealthier women, and finds that the gap between the two groups has widened significantly over the past five years.

And Roberts:

The rates of unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women now dwarf the fertility rates of wealthier women, according to new research from the Guttmacher Institute.

The gap between the two groups has widened significantly over the past five years, according to Slate magazine.

It’s good of Roberts to reference Slate in their copy but as Martin Moore from the Media Standards Trust says, “A few more quote marks wouldn’t go amiss.”

Continuing the side-by-side comparison, here’s Lerner:

The other, by the Center for Work-Life Policy, documents rates of childlessness among corporate professional women that are higher than the childlessness rates of some European countries experiencing fertility crises.

And here’s Roberts:

Rates of childlessness among corporate professional women are higher than the childlessness rates of some European countries experiencing fertility crises, another study, by the Center for Work-Life Policy, documents.

And Lerner:

By comparison, in England, which has one of the highest percentages of women without children in the world, 22 percent of all women are childless.

And Roberts:

By comparison, in England, which has one of the highest percentages of women without children in the world, 22 per cent of all women are childless.

And Lerner again:

Research shows that women with unplanned pregnancies are more likely to smoke, drink, and go without prenatal care. Their births are more likely to be premature. Their children are less likely to be breastfed, and more likely to be neglected and to have various physical and mental health effects. Then, reinforcing the cycle, the very fact of having a child increases a woman’s chances of being poor.

And Roberts again:

Ultimately poorer women with unplanned pregnancies are more likely to smoke, drink, and go without prenatal care.

Their births are more likely to be premature. Their children are less likely to be breastfed, and more likely to be neglected and to have various physical and mental health effects.

And, reinforcing the cycle, the very fact of having a child increases a woman’s chances of being poor.

You get the picture…

This isn’t the first time the Daily Mail have been accused of plagiarising their news from sources across the pond.

In March this year, SF Weekly, a publication based in San Francisco, claimed that an article of theirs on illegal immigrants had been “shamelessly ripped off and plastered on the website of the wildly successful British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail.”

(Hat-tip to @oliverburkeman and @martinjemoore.)

5 Comments

Filed under Media and journalism

5 Responses to Daily Mail accused of plagiarising from Slate Magazine

  1. Doreen

    She appears to be @hanrobs on Twitter (bio: “Hannah Roberts used to work in fashion. But is feeling a lot better now. Trainee reporter on the Daily Mail. Views my own etc”).

  2. Richard

    How ironic that the Daily Wail, infamous for its distortion and misreporting of statistics – particularly if you happen to be a sick or disabled welfare claimant – to mislead its readers, should chose to clarify a misleading average figure.

    Damn hypocrites!

  3. Emma Brown

    At least that article bothered to mention the article from which it was stealing. The Daily Mail articles normally don’t, but they are so bad at journalism that you can normally spot a few clues if you read the whole article.

    For instance, because some articles are simply a cut-and-paste job, the Daily Mail tend to leave all the American (mis)spellings in; so you up with things like ‘humor’ or ‘theater’, or the dates written like 8/24/11 (American format).

    Also, they state things that only an American would state. For example: “in Paris, France”, or “the Prime Minister of England says…” Obviously, these things need to be written for an American reader in this way because not all Americans know where Paris is (I’m not being patronising, it is just an objective fact); and the American-style of journalism is naturally overly-descriptive.

    There are a few other things that one will notice as well, such as referring to the U.K. as England (I know that the Mail do conflate the U.K. and England when trying to manipulate statistics, but some American journalists will actually refer to the U.K. as England as standard, because the general view that an American holds encompasses this.)

    These unethical practices (plagiarism, churnalism, lack of objectivity) just add to the many reasons why the Daily Mail, and it’s equivalents which work in the same way, really are a detriment to the medium in which they operate.

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