Journalist Phil Jacob, accused of plagiarism and quote lifting, resigned in disgrace from the Australian Daily Telegraph after Australian media watchdog ABC Media Watch found problems in his work.
Jacob’s departure was revealed when Media Watch contacted the Telegraph for comment about several incidents of plagiarism and improper attribution was identified in his reporting.
The Daily Telegraph‘s Deputy Managing Editor Tony Thomas told Media Watch that Jacob “resigned from the newspaper” and the newspaper “intends to take no further action at this time.”
iMediaEthics asked News Corp. Australia for more information concerning this incident including when Jacob resigned, if the Telegraph issued corrections on affected work and if the Telegraph investigated all of Jacob’s work. News Corp. Australia’s Adam Suckling told iMediaEthics by email, “We won’t be adding to the two public statements we have already made on this – which are up on the media watch website.”
Media Watch discovered the ethical lapses when investigating Jacob’s work for a follow-up on its earlier report about issues in one specific article by Jacob.
Jacob was the Telegraph‘s state political reporter and formerly was the paper’s business editor, according to Media Watch. His LinkedIn profile says he graduated college in 2011 and had been with News Corp’s Telegraph since then.
Original report found lifted, manipulated quotes
In its initial March 31 report on Jacob, Media Watch reported that he lifted quotes from a 2012 The Age article for his March 24, 2014 Daily Telegraph article. Jacob’s Age article lifted quotes and repackaged information from the Telegraph’s article.
Media Watch wrote about issues when one of the sources from the original Age article, Daniel Bowen, contacted them to complain.
Bowen was quoted in the 2012 Age article as the president of the Public Transport Users Association. But, he wasn’t still president in 2014, so the 2014 Telegraph article, featuring old quotes from him in his former position, raised red flags.
Media Watch did a side-by-side comparison of Jacob’s 2014 Telegraph article with the 2012 Age story and discovered not just the lifted quotes stolen from the Age without credit, but also manipulated quotes.
The Telegraph responded to Media Watch’s initial March inquiry about the lifting and altered quotes by telling Media Watch that it “disciplined and counselled” the reporter, Jacob.
The statement from the Telegraph said in part, “Jacob has erred in his duty of care in preparing this story.”
Later investigations by Media Watch, Crikey find plagiarism
After the first incident of lifted, altered quotes, Media Watch again looked into more of Jacob’s work and found “this was not an isolated offense.”
According to Media Watch, Jacob lifted quotes and stole content verbatim without credit from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Similarly, Australian news site Crikey discovered more plagiarism in its own investigation. “Though most of Jacob’s stories appear to be entirely original, Crikey did find a number of examples of lifted copy and quotes, often from international sources and occasionally from the Fairfax press,” Crikey’s Myriam Robin reported.
Robin told iMediaEthics by e-mail that she reviewed “easily several dozen” articles by Jacob during his time at the Telegraph.
For example, Jacob’s August 2013 Telegraph story plagiarized in part from the Sydney Morning Herald’s July 2013 story.
“All up around a third of [August 2013] story was lifted,” Media Watch reported. “And this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve dug up six examples of what we believe is blatant plagiarism, where Jacob has taken sentences, paragraphs or even half a story from another journalist, word for word, and passed it off as his own. ”
iMediaEthics asked the Australian Press Council if it received any complaints regarding Jacob’s work for the Telegraph but the press council’s Derek Wilding told us the council doesn’t “handle complaints about specific journalists, only about articles.”
“In any event, I don’t know of any complaints about plagiarism concerning The Daily Telegraph, at least in recent years,” he said.
iMediaEthics has written to Jacob for comment.