Missoulian Not Satisfied with Examiner.Com Apology for Plagiarism Charges

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After being accused of plagiarism, the hyperlocal news site Examiner.com apologized for and unpublished the stories in question, Poynter’s Jim Romenesko wrote Oct. 7.

The site’s vice president of editorial, Travis Henry, e-mailed Romenesko that Examiner.com “ended our relationship with the contributors who submitted them” and hadn’t heard previously of “concerns” about Examiner.com’s content.

Examiner.com explains on its website that the site was created in 2008 and hosts “hundreds” of hyperlocal sites. It isn’t related to the Irish Examiner, which was accused of plagiarism earlier this month, as iMediaEthics has written.

Henry explained Examiner.com’s arrangement with its writers.  He wrote: “All articles on Examiner.com are contributed by various independent third party authors (referred to on our website as “Examiners”), and are selected, written, posted solely by the authors themselves.”   Henry denied that “This instance is not indicative of the quality of Examiner.com at large.”

Further, Henry explained that to unpublish content, one must file a “take down notice pursuant to the DMCA,” and then the site will “locate the articles in question” and remove them.

Romenesko wrote Oct. 6 about the Missoulian Cops and Courts blog’s charges against Examiner.com.

That Oct. 5 article by Gwen Florio accused Examiner.com of plagiarizing its content. As example, this Examiner.com article lifts from this Missoulian article.

That Examiner.com article has since been removed, but the Missoulian posted a few sentences from each article that shows  Examiner.com lifted directly from the Missoulian and only changed a few words. The two examples of plagiarism the Missoulian published were from July 2011 and August 2011.

iMediaEthics wrote to Florio to see if the Missoulian is satisfied with Henry’s response. Florio told iMediaEthics via e-mail that “we are not satisfied” and claimed that Henry’s statement that Examiner.com’s “legal team spoke with Sherry Devlin from the Missoulian on Tuesday afternoon, providing her information on how to formally submit a take down notice pursuant to the DMCA and in line with policies featured on hundreds of similar sites, and as set forth in our site’s terms of use,” is wrong.

According to Florio, “the ‘legal team’ is the receptionist who answered the phone when Sherry Devlin called.” Florio wrote that the receptionist wouldn’t give Devlin a direct contact for Examiner.com’s lawyers but told her to e-mail legal@examiner.com.

Further, Florio wrote:

“I find it amusing that Henry pleads inability to police Examiner.com’s “independent contractors,” and chides us for not producing links to each and every plagiarized story. The Missoulian’s small and extraordinarily hardworking staff spends its time actually reporting and writing stories. We’d love to have the sort of spare time that allowed us to troll around looking for those who rip off that good work.”

She noted that Examiner.com has unpublished the stories she called out in her Oct. 5 post, but there still are articles that plagiarize, including this story on a lawsuit against Greg Mortenson, which lifts many of the same sentences from an Associated Press story published by the Missoulian (minus a small few word changes).

iMediaEthics has written to Examiner.com for further comment and information and will update with any response.

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Missoulian Not Satisfied with Examiner.Com Apology for Plagiarism Charges

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