Plagiarism at the UK Daily Mail?

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Was the above New York Times article plagiarized by the Daily Mail? (Credit: New York Times, screenshot detail)

The Daily Mail has been accused of plagiarizing a New York Times article about using electronic devices on airplanes.

However, since the claims of plagiarism first surfaced in a post on Poynter Jan. 20, the article’s byline has been changed and some of the alleged plagiarized quotes have reportedly been removed from the story.

According to Yahoo News, the Daily Mail story in question originally credited Daily Mail reporter Liz Thomas as the story’s author. However, now, the story is credited to the generic “Daily Mail reporter.”

The Daily Mail reportedly has ” the second-highest traffic of any newspaper website in the world.”

The Back Story

In a Jan. 20 post, Poynter’s Jim Romenesko wrote “Somebody call the Plagiarism Police on the Daily Mail!” His post appears to be the first to call out claims of plagiarism.

Romenesko highlighted a passage in the New York Times’ Jan 17 article and the Daily Mail’s Jan. 19, “noting there are many other similar passages.”

As example, he noted the Times reported:

“Many of these devices transmit a signal, and all of them emit electromagnetic waves, which, in theory, could interfere with the plane’s electronics. At the same time, older planes might not have the best shielding against the latest generation of devices, some engineers said.

while the Daily Mail wrote:

 “Most personal devices transmit a signal and all of them emit electromagnetic waves which, in theory, could interfere with the plane’s electronics. At the same time, older planes might not have the best protection against the latest generation of devices.”

According to Romenesko, “there are many other similar passages” in both reports.

Likewise the New York Observer wrote: “We were going to go through and pull out all of the verbatim passages, so you don’t have to toggle between tabs as you relish giving Thomas a mental shaming, but there were too many. Total cut and paste job.”

The New York Times’ Jan. 17 article by Christine Negroni, “Interfering with Flight,” cited many sources in its report about the turning off of electronic devices for airline flights.  See here.

The Daily Mail story, called “Electronic devices may cause plane crashes – and older aircraft are especially vulnerable” (see here)  was  updated Jan. 21 and reportedly in the update the byline was changed from Liz Thomas to “Daily Mail reporter.”

Thomas has commented to Yahoo News that “This has nothing to do with me. I did not write the piece at all. I am away on holiday.”

Regarding the accusations of plagiarism, Daily Mail assistant editor Charles Garside stated:

“I can tell you that an inquiry is underway to discover how this happened and [we will] deal with the matter appropriately,”

“An earlier version of this article was mistakenly attributed to the writer Liz Thomas. We also regret that a revised version of the article also failed to attribute the source to the New York Times.”

The New York Times story cites: Boeing engineer David Carson, engineer Bill Strauss, the New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission, FAA spokesperson Les Dorr, Los Angeles passenger Nicole Rodrigues, Association of Flight Attendants occupational safety specialist Dinkar Mokadam, Air Transport Association safety and operations head Tom Henricks, air safety consultant John Darbo, American Airlines spokesperson Tim Smith, and  electrical engineer Doug Hughes

The updated version of the Daily Mail story quotes Bill Strauss, David Carson, and Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Will Stewart

Yahoo News reported that the Daily Mail removed Thomas’s byline and that the article “had been edited and cut down significantly from its original form sans the lifted Times text.”

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade sarcastically commented wrote:

The Mail’s writer, Liz Thomas, even managed to carry the same quotes as the Times’s writer, Christine Negroni…And how about this? Both writers tracked down the same passenger and elicited the same quotes…And what about this? They also got the same quotes from the same expert…Well, they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But plagiarism is a different matter.”

StinkyJournalism is writing to the New York Times writer for comment and will update with any response.

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Daily Mail Accused of Plagiarizing the New York Times

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