Architectural Record Questions Arch Daily's Editorial Standards after Plagiarism Charges

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


Home » Plagiarism»

Arch Daily unpublished this Sept. 18 post after being accused of plagiarism, but the post remains re-published on International Business Times's website. (Credit, IBTimes, screenshot, highlight added)

iMediaEthics wrote earlier this week about accusations of plagiarism against architecture news site Arch Daily.  An architecture news site and magazine, Architectural Record,  claimed that Arch Daily lifted an Architectural Record story called “Harlem’s New Renaissance.”

Arch Daily has apologized to Architectural Record’s Jenna McKnight and unpublished the story, as we wrote Sept. 27.  We’ve since heard back from McKnight, who had laid out her charges of plagiarism against Arch Daily in a Sept. 19 post on Architectural Record’s website.

McKnight told iMediaEthics by e-mail yesterday that she found the Arch Daily story in question on Sept. 19 and “immediately contacted the site.” She received Arch Daily’s executive editor David Basulto’s apology at 5:37 p.m. that day, she told iMediaEthics . (As iMediaEthics wrote earlier, Basulto told us that he was traveling and didn’t see her e-mail immediately.)

McKnight added that she “appreciates” both Arch Daily’s apology for and unpublishing of the story, but questioned why the story was published. She suggested that Arch Daily should either “review each story before it’s posted” or advise “writers on best practices and copyright law.”

Further, McKnight added, “I am not convinced, however, that Mr. Basulto fully understands the tenets of plagiarism. He suggests that his blogger, Irina Vinnitskaya, wrote her own Harlem story based on my Architectural Record story,” when McKnight states Vinnitskaya “lifted exact language” including a complete paragraph from McKnight’s report.

“Where she doesn’t use my exact language, she paraphrases my words. Moreover, she employs the same story structure, which often is considered an act of plagiarism,” McKnight wrote.

McKnight also commented that while Arch Daily did attribute the images to Architectural Record’s photos, “Arch Daily never sought nor received permission to use them.”

McKnight sent iMediaEthics both her story and Vinnitskaya’s story for comparison.  Vinnitskaya’s story uses four photos from McKnight’s story with copyright given to McKnight.  The story also duplicates the headline, and many sentences, phrases and quotes without attribution. Architectural Record is not cited, except for a note “Via Architectural Record” with a link at the bottom of the article.

Also, McKnight noted that Vinnitskaya’s Arch Daily post was re-published by the International Business Times here.  McKnight told iMediaEthics that she’s asked the International BusinessTimes to take the story down “three times in the past week,” but hasn’t had any response.

In a follow-up e-mail to iMediaEthics, McKnight again questioned the “editorial guidance” given to Arch Daily writers and commenting that “a cursory glance at other Arch Daily articles reveals this is not an isolated incident.” McKnight cited this June 17 Arch Daily post, which duplicates three images and at least a one identical sentence from a June 2 New York Times article. The sentence in question:

“They’ve achieved this by looking beyond the island itself, placing the sculptures with an eye to the views of Manhattan and Brooklyn and the activity along the waterfront.”

That ArchDaily post is also written by Irina Vinnitskaya.

“Given Arch Daily’s billing as the world’s most-visited architecture site, I hope its staff honors the responsibility that comes with such an influential position,” McKnight wrote to StinkyJournalism.

McKnight also commented on how Architectural Record’s “syndicated content” works.  Basulto had stated in his Sept. 27 apology to readers that when Architectural Record posts Arch Daily stories through syndication, Architectural Record doesn’t include Arch Daily bylines. However, McKnight explained that “adding bylines is not our responsibility; it’s theirs, according to our syndicated-content provider.”  She noted that Architectural Record can’t change the way Arch Daily stories appear on Architectural Record’s site and that since “Arch Daily’s RSS feed does not include individual writer bylines,” the syndicator can’t show the bylines.

However, McKnight stated that the byline-syndication issue is unrelated to the plagiarism charges. “We pay to have this content on our site, we clearly label the source, and it is not our responsibility, nor is it in our power, to provide individual bylines,” McKnight wrote.

iMediaEThics wrote to ArchDaily’s Basulto to ask if Arch Daily has notified International Business Times to let the site know Arch Daily unpublished the post accused of plagiarism. We also asked Basulto about ArchDaily’s standards and policies for publication, if he had any response to McKnight’s comment that she is “not convinced, however, that Mr. Basulto fully understands the tenets of plagiarism,” and to ask about the June 17 Arch Daily post by Vinnitskaya that lifts at least one full, identical sentence from the New York Times. We also asked Basulto if Vinnitskaya is still writing for Arch Daily since according to her Arch Daily author page, she hasn’t posted anything since being accused of plagiarism, and if he had any further comments.

Basulto responded that he had “no further comments, it’s all on the letter.”  Here again is the link to Basulto’s “message to our readers” over the incident.

iMediaEthics has written to International Business Times to see if it will be removing the story and will update with any response.

UPDATE: 09/29/2011 2:22 PM EST: Read a follow-up story on this incident with Architectural Record Jenna McKnight’s comments here.

Submit a tip / Report a problem

Architectural Record Questions Arch Daily’s Editorial Standards after Plagiarism Charges

Share this article: