‘Desperate times call for desperate measures’, as the saying goes. And there’s none more desperate than the UK’s corporate press. Not least among these is the Telegraph, which seems to have just ripped off an article from an independent media outlet without so much as a ‘thank you’.
Mary Fitzgerald is the editor-in-chief of openDemocracy. It’s an independent website which provides in-depth analysis of UK and global issues. And recently, it ran a massive exclusive story on coronavirus (Covid-19). But as Fitzgerald tweeted:
Great work guys! https://t.co/feX3fGIfmZ
— Mary Fitzgerald (@maryftz) April 22, 2020
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Yes, the Telegraph did indeed appear to rip off an openDemocracy article. The openDemocracy piece from 20 April was about the tests that the NHS uses for coronavirus. In short, openDemocracy revealed that 25% of these tests could fail to detect the virus. It also found that there were other problems with the test. This came from a leaked memo openDemocracy got its hands on from the National Infection Service (NIS). And the story yet again throws into question the government’s response to the pandemic.
You can read the full openDemocracy article here. Late on 21 April, the Telegraph published an oddly similar article. It too detailed the document, but it claimed that it was “seen by the Telegraph“. In fact, openDemocracy had put it in the public domain. And as Fitzgerald said, the Telegraph article was a “carbon copy” of openDemocracy‘s. So she asked people to tell the Telegraph what they thought of its “scoop”:
Please RT widely and let @Telegraph what you think about their marvellous 'scoop'.
And if you'd like to consider supporting trustworthy, public interest journalism that isn't locked behind a paywall, you can do so here. Thank you. https://t.co/L0Fz86TS7O
— Mary Fitzgerald (@maryftz) April 22, 2020
And several people did say what they thought of the Telegraph‘s ‘work’:
Maybe @Telegraph's motto is "YESTERDAY'S NEWS – TOMORROW!"
— ГОРЕСТ ФЪМП (@SomniNaut) April 22, 2020
The Borrisograph doesn't do journalism so has to steal someone else's
— Kenneth Heal (@KennethHeal1) April 22, 2020
Terrible the amount of banditry that goes on among journalists. I don’t know how they feel no shame stealing credit for others’ work.
— Joani Walsh (@joaniwalshi) April 22, 2020
Begging bowls at the ready
The Canary asked the Telegraph for comment. We specifically wanted to know why it had not credited openDemocracy as the source of the leak. But it had not responded at the time of publication.
On 19 April, corporate journalists went full-on ‘begging bowl’ after the Sunday Times published a ‘scoop’ on Boris Johnson. As The Canary reported, they took issue with the fact that people were annoyed about the article being behind a paywall – apparently not seeing the problem with critical pandemic information only being accessible to those who could afford it. But moreover, the attitude of corporate journalists to their own role in the current crisis reeked of wilful ignorance.
Now, with the Telegraph effectively nicking another outlet’s story, the desperation of corporate media to seem relevant and somehow important is becoming nauseating. So please, read the openDemocracy article. Not the Telegraph‘s.
Featured image via HonestReporting – Flickr
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