Monday, September 08, 2008

Daily Times Plagiarism Alert

While going through the Daily Times website I came across a news report titled "In gritty Karachi, husband-wife team saves unwanted babies." This heading rang a bell and I knew that I'd read it before but couldn't quite place where. At that moment I knew the paper was up to no good. Such a thought is hardly surprising as we've caught Daily Times plagiarising on more than one occasion. (Ahsan's posts on Daily Times' past infractions can be found here and here, one of the links alludes to a post by bubs which is sadly no longer accessible - we're sure there are many more instances, do let us know if you know of these.)

I googled the title and sure enough an article by the same title was published in the Christian Science Monitor on July 14th 2008. I read the CSM article and went back to read the Daily Times article and found them to be exactly the same. Till that point I had not read the Daily Times article and upon reading the article I realised that unlike the last few times the Daily Times had not plagiarised the article and had in fact credited the author, photographer and newspaper in a byline at the end of the article.

The Daily Times may have credited the original publication but this does not make their reproduction of the article legal. Articles and op-eds appearing in most major international publications, including the Christian Science Monitor, are licensed via syndication services. The newspapers that do use these syndicated articles have to pay a royalty to the syndication service provider, which, if not run by the newspaper, pays a royalty to the newspaper / magazine of origin.

Daily Times appears not to agree with so called 'ethical, moral and legal duties' of paying royalties to the people who actually write and report these articles. Instead of succumbing like nappy wearing pussies, my personal hero Salman 'Evita' Taseer has chosen to fight the man and rage against the machine.

The Daily Times routinely copies and pastes news reports, articles and op-eds from across the world on to its pages without paying a dime in royalties. Dawn, a slave to the system, continues to pay substantial royalties by having a modicum of decency and they even almost always credit the authors - sissies!

The unauthorised reproduction of articles by Daily Times is very much against Pakistani law (Copyrights Ordinance, 1962) and International Laws (Berne Convention, 1886 - of which Pakistan is a signatory and which can be legally enforced by Pakistani courts). Daily Times' unlawful acts infringes two important rights held by authors / newspapers; one, the financial right to profit from work belonging to them; and two, the moral right to be attributed and grant permission for the material owned by them to be reproduced in manner that maintains its integrity.

Coming back to the Edhi article, what surprises me the most is that Daily Times chose to reproduce the article in its Karachi pages which normally carries news reports on Karachi. Does the newspaper not have any decent reporters who can fill this up with, you know, news? And if they really had to reproduce an article on Edhi, then why not another one that appeared a few months ago in the Daily Times itself?

This brings me to the most annoying thing about Daily Times; it has a 'Gora Saheb' mentality. Whenever I read the newspaper I get the feeling that the editors at the paper are trying to impress me by having articles by foreign journalists; they'll even hire foreigners to come and man the desks at their offices. It's all a little silly but if it works for them, that's fine because I guess they have an audience that buys into this bullshit.

The thing that's not fine though, is their continued plagiarism and copying of other peoples writings without a damn care in the world. Perhaps the rules, and laws, are rewritten when your owner is the Governor of Punjab and a chum of the ruling elite. But I don't blame Salman Taseer as much as I blame that sanctimonious scumbag, Najam Sethi; as editor he bears primary responsibility for the plagiarism and cheating that has become an every day event at Daily Times. It's high time Mr. Sethi practiced what he preaches so very often and get his own house in order.

P.S.
There was one main difference in the two copies of the article, at the end of its article the CSM gave out contact details for The Edhi Foundation as well as the manner of donations accepted by them. The Daily Times copy omitted this bit. I've taken the liberty of reproducing the passage for our readers:

"Information about the Edhi Foundation can be found at their website: www.edhifoundation.com The Edhi Foundation does not accept donations from government agencies or religious organizations, but will accept donations from individuals. "

29 comments:

Ahsan said...

I can't fucking stand Najam Sethi. Really drives me up the wall.

Good post, by the way.

AKS said...

Thanks man.

My dislike for Sethi has reached such a point that I've started bitching out everything he writes, regardless of its content.

Nudge E'm Say Tee said...

Hey, the Daily Times is a liberal newspaper. Liberal in opinion and commitment to journalistic and legal principles.

Btw, I would be interested in a more detailed critique of Sethi.

tang0 said...

I came across one of the Daily Times' fine pieces of original reporting a few weeks ago. Lucky for me, I had someone claiming to be the author of the piece come along and defend his plagiarism by telling me that he hadn't copied it from the place I had assumed it would come from.

Maybe Najam Sethi will come along and defend himself?

Junaid Khan said...

More luck having Hussein Haqqani come and defend himself. Sethi actually has a life...pimping it up in LaWhore.

AKS said...

Nudge e'm say tee - Classic!

Anonymous said...

First off, I have known Mr Sethi for the past 13 years, have worked with him and admire him. Let me clarify that the piece that has provoked such ire was carried by Daily Times but its attribution was inadvertantly missed. Nowhere does the newspaper claim that it is an original piece.

AKS said...

Dear Anonymous,

I think you've missed my point. The Daily Times has a habit of 'inadvertently missing' the attribution of articles, which makes them habitual plagiarisers.

In this case, however, they didn't miss the attribution but failed to go through the proper channel of purchasing the article from a syndication service. Daily Times does this pretty much every day.

The correct attribution of an article does not result in the Daily Times' action becoming legal and / or ethical. They are legally required to seek permission from the author / owner and pay them royalty. Daily Times is a commercial enterprise and its republishing of other newspapers' articles, albeit attributed, falls under unfair commercial use.

Ahsan said...

Anon1032:

I'm sorry but the man you admire and work with is a terrible excuse for a journalist. He runs a newspaper that regularly cheats and does so unabashedly and unapologetically.

changinguppakistan said...

My job advertised an event with Pakistani journalists (for a conference we are organizing next week), and lo and behold, the Daily Times released an article not long after that was subjective and grossly misrepresented the facts. I was shocked and angry, to say the least, that the paper's correspondent did not do any fact-checking whatsoever, or at least email me (the point of contact) on the event flyer. I had heard about the paper's issue with "journalistic" standards, but did not realize how true that was until I experienced it myself. Your post further affirms that for me.

Hassan Khalid said...

CHUP: Khalid Hassan is a relic of the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto days. He sits in his little apartment on some H2B2BBC visa, attends press conferences, summarizes real journalists articles, and sometimes writes his own snarky stuff. Hes a good opinion writer but has no news reporting skills. Also hes loves to pick on goras and religious Muslims.

changinguppakistan said...

@ Hassan - thanks, but how did you know it was Khalid Hassan who did the piece? :)

Hassan Khalid said...

He's their only correspondent in the US and, in the words of Bush, "a major league a$$hole."

Fatima said...

How do you know that they didnt go thru the proper channels?

changinguppakistan said...

Haha, Me thinks he was more than a little miffed that he wasn't one of the Pakistani journalists invited for the conference.

It will be interesting to see next week the dynamic among the journalist participants here. I think the sacrifices made by the media for press freedoms and information gathering is very significant and important, but there are still so many issues that are still evident (esp. pertinent to individual journalists), and perhaps not enough emphasis is placed on good journalistic standards, which was aptly noted here by AKS. I am interested to see whether they are able to come together to address many of these issues - or whether some may allow egos or preconceived notions get in the way of productive dialogue.

Anonymous said...

Right-o. Gentlemen (and ladies?), let me assure that the standard of journalism at Daily Times is far higher than its Pakistani rivals. Which, while not saying much, should at least be acknowledged. The paper pays for all stories and pictures that are posted on the wire services (AP, AFP, Reuters).

Having been a wire fiend myself, I can also tell you that a piece on a piece published elsewhere is very much legal and kosher. The wire services (mentioned above) do it all the time. (For example: "Newsweek has alleged that Husain Haqqani is in fact a woman...")

The whole reproduction of pieces and without comment is another matter. Surely, the foreign publications that the paper uses here (and who regularly interview Mr Sethi as an analyst) would have taken it up with the 6-year old paper by now.

In any case, if you all feel that the paper can be improved, and it can, please write to Mr Sethi at editor@dailytimes.com.pk He listens. I promise.

bubs said...

Anon705:
You can Daily Times knows it is stealing content by the fact that its foreign opinion page is the only one not put online. Also, I know that Robert Fisk for one has threatened legal action against Daily Times for printing his columns when only Dawn is authorised to do so. Many other columnists have also complained (usually after being urged to do so by Dawn).

T said...

Ill-supported and biased pontification is so entrenched in the practice of blogging that it would be grossly unfair of me to single out this one for special critique, so I won't.

I am, however, curious about a couple of things.

First of all: As someone who worked briefly in DT myself, I can confirm that DT subscribes to wire services, from where they get a large chunk of their stories. Others still come from reporters, and columnists who I know personally. I couldn't find anything on the Robert Fisk lawsuit, but I doubt a paper which is read internationally
to the extent the DT and it's sister publication TFT is could really get away with that for very long.

2. This is not to say that DT are angels...and certainly not to say that Najam Sethi is a Messiah. But why this pathological mad-on for them in particular? Sethi has many flaws, but I know that because I've worked with the man. Although comments like "I can't fucking stand Najam Sethi" are wonderfully descriptive, and "I've started bitching out everything he writes, regardless of its content" is a crystal clear indication of objectivity, I remain unsure as to the cause of this targetted ire.

Anyone remember Dawn News during the Lal Masjid days? Journalistic integrity? How about their laughable sub-editing?

See, those were cheap shots. They were cheap shots because it is childishly simple to point out lapses of journalistic integrity in more or less any enterprise, especially in Pakistan.

Just as there is nothing simpler than mocking a medium that is held to no journalistic or factual or fiscal OR stylistic standards whatsoever, and yet is saturated by armchair pundits who believe themselves to be the sentinels of intellectualism and ethics.


But I wouldn't, of course. That would be infantile.

Cheers!

Nudge E'm Say Tee said...

Mr. T:

I had to parse between your actual defense and ad hominem attacks.

Your defense of the Fisk lawsuit issue is weak. You couldn't find anything on it. This has no impact on the issue. One would need a third party to verify its existence/non-existence.

Then, you say you doubt DT/TFT could have got away with this for very long. That's a convenient assumption.

You seem to assume that Fisk's lawsuit would actually come to any result in Pakistan's lovely legal system. Very convenient. Convenient like articles just laying out there on the internet ready to be grabbed.

bubs said...

T:
The Fisk lawsuit thing came from a former op-ed page editor of the Daily Times who is now the editor of a monthly magazine.
And as someone who worked at the Daily Times, surely you cannot deny that the entire foreign views page is lifted off the internet without paying a dime. And if that isn't intellectual property theft, I don't know what is.

AKS said...

@ anon705 & t

You've both referred to the fact that Daily Times subscribes to Wire Services, but neither of you have cited any example of Daily Times using a syndication service.

Wire Service such as AP and Reuters deal mainly in news items and only rarely offer opinions; they may also collate prominent news items from different sources and offer them to their subscribers.

Most editorials, opinions and news reports that are published in newspapers are offered via syndication services.

There is then a big difference between Wire and Syndication - Wires usually offer you a story (bomb blast in Lebanon) whereas Syndication services will offer you a comment or news report by a journalist (Robert Fisk in Lebanon speaking commenting on the bombing).

If Daily Times did indeed purchase the Edhi article from CSM then they should've credited the story as: from "The Christian Science Monitor News Service," which is the moniker of the CSM's syndication service. They haven't done that, which leads me to believe that they've stolen the article.

Moreover, there are many occasions where Daily Times attempts to legitimise their actions by adding a title heading such as "Foreign Views," "Daily Times Monitor" or a by-line such as "The NYT reports that Zardari is a con-man" but instead of just referring to the article they reproduce the whole thing. This is unfair commercial use and therefore illegal. For a demonstration of how this can be done ethically and legally, check out the "Today's Papers" section in Slate: [http://www.slate.com/id/2199732/]

Unsurprisingly, neither of you have mentioned the instances where Daily Times, or its reporters, have actually plagiarised articles and photographs without giving any citations; please check out the links to Ahsan's post on the infringing pieces.

And t if you do wish to offer a snide comment on "ill-supported and biased pontification" do try and read the supporting material.

P.S.

As for the standard of journalism being higher at Daily Times, that's entirely a matter of choice. I personally find their actual reporting to be quite lacklustre, they do have some good foreign opinion pieces though.

Ahsan said...

Anon705:

I don't know how you can simply assert that the standard of journalism at the DT is better than that of its rivals. I simply do not find that to be the case. However, we can agree to disagree.

T:

Oh my God, you're so clever! Listen, one day, you HAVE to take the time out and teach me these fancy rhetorical devices you employ; I too would like to learn how to say things by disavowing them.

As for the substance - or lack thereof - of your point(s), let me say the following. First, as AKS pointed out, the Daily Times simply lifts syndicated articles and reproduces them. You don't actually mount a defense of this; instead you simply say you doubt the DT could have gotten away with it this long. This "logic" is so convoluted I won't even bother trying to drill holes in it.

Secondly, there is no "pathological mad-on" for Najam Sethi or the Daily Times on this blog. If you had bothered to read some of our archives - a tall task given you clearly did not even read this one post completely - you would have discovered this point for yourself. You may, if you so desire, search our archives for terms like "Hamid Mir" and "The News".

In general, I find it quite telling that the only people defending Najam Sethi on this thread are people who have worked with him. Those uncolored by personal bias - I have never met the man, and consequently have formed my opinion solely on the basis of his work and his newspaper(s) - seem to agree that the Daily Times systematically and consistently engages in less-than-ethical journalistic behavior. To call such systematic behavior "lapses" might be good enough to fool yourself, but it is fooling no one else here.

Fatima said...

Well people who have worked for the DT may have a personal bias but they 'may' also have more knowledge on how much if anything is lifted without syndication/wires etc.

I have noticed that once in a while on this blog DT is mentioned in ref to plagiarism. im not saying its often but i do think the DT is not the only paper that bypasses such legal matters...but it is the usually the only one i have noticed mentioned on this blog. Not to say that they dont deserve honorable mention but i have noticed DT more often then others esp in ref to plagiarism.

Its not surprising that a casual reader of this blog MIGHT think that some of the commenters may have a bias due to comments like 'My dislike for Sethi has reached such a point that I've started bitching out everything he writes, regardless of its content.' and 'i can't fucking stand Najam Sethi.' (no offense intended to either of you lovely ppl)

Also if DT is going about this illegally then Mr. Sethi is not the only guilty party at the DT.

I think we should all be more mad at the legal system which allows such things to go unchecked.

My point is cant we disagree without putting eachother down.Just a thought.

Ahsan said...

Fatima:

I can't speak for the others, but the only reason I point out the Daily Times' plagiarism more so than other newspapers' is because I come across it more. I don't ever remember reading an article in Dawn, for instance, and finding that I had read it before. Dawn also does not have a history of using photographs and then not crediting them (or even asking for permission to use them) the way Daily Times does. There is no bias on my part - if I see plagiarism from other papers, I'll be sure to point it out.

I should stipulate for the record that my statement "I can't fucking stand Najam Sethi" is born out completely non-personal considerations. Again, I have never met the man, nor anyone related to him, nor anyone who knows him. If I can't stand him, it's because his newspaper cheats, systematically, blatantly and unapologetically.

As for the idea that others at the Daily Times may be responsible for its plagiarism, I would only say that the buck stops with the senior editorial staff. A real newspaper, like the NYT, takes responsibility for its mistakes and tries to ensure that such mistakes don't happen again. (http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Northeast/06/05/nytimes.resigns/). On the other hand, the Daily Times' credo seems to be: all is fair in love, war, and journalism.

Finally, I too share your desire for being able to disagree without putting each other down. However, unlike AKS and Bubs, I will not ignore personal attacks, and will respond in the same tone I am addressed.

AKS said...

@ Fatima

While you bitch out our legal system, you yourself are adhering to one of the worst hallmarks of this very system i.e. "I'm not the only one breaking law, hence my action isn't really illegal."

Maybe other Pakistani newspapers do plagiarise and cheat but I haven't come across an instance where they have, or been able to identify such an isntance; rest assured that when I do, I'll report it on the blog.

The fact that I haven't come across plagiarism in other newspapers (I read Dawn a lot more, and The News at par with Daily Times) speaks volumes about the amount of plagiarism and cheating carried out at the Daily Times.

Like Ahsan, my distaste for Najam Sethi arises not from any personal vendetta; I've never met the man nor do I know anything about him, except for what's available in the public domain. Its the continued breach of the law while adopting a holier than thou attitude that pisses me off; and their lack of adherence to journalistic ethics makes me distrust what they write.

The other thing that pisses me off is their Gora Saab mentality - ooh, let's get white people to come and write because they're so cooool, darling! (This though is a matter of personal taste.)

I have no problems with you preferring Daily Times, nor do I have an issue with you disregarding our criticism of the Daily Times. But I do not appreciate your stance that we criticise the Daily Times because we have a bias against the newspaper or its editor.

Our bias is reserved for truly exceptional personalities, like that playboy fundo hybrid, Imran Khan; by the way, for some odd reason, I've started equating him to Sarah Palin!

Fatima said...

@ AKS
I think you misunderstood me...
I didnt say that you or Ahsan had a bias...i said i can understand why a casual reader might think so.

I also do not perfer the DT nor did i ever say that.

Also in response to "While you bitch out our legal system, you yourself are adhering to one of the worst hallmarks of this very system i.e. "I'm not the only one breaking law, hence my action isn't really illegal."...I never said that it was ok because everyone is doing it. I am actually a lil surprised that you felt that from my post.

Also I did not disregard the original post or your critisim of the DT. I just didnt talk about it directly.

I think if you re-read my post you will notice these things that i have now pointed out. My apologies for the misunderstandings.

AKS said...

My bad, I guess I'm just itching for a fight. God, I miss Moss J!

Anyhow, my apologies for jumping the gun.

All settled, we can go back to blaming Zardari/Palin/Imran for everything.

AKS said...

Having re-read your comment and my follow up, I must admit I was out of line; really sorry about that.

Ahsan said...

Waisay, AKS, I have to say, if you hadn't tried to be all diplomatic with T, and just been snarky as I was, you wouldn't have all this bottled up rage to be taken out on poor Fatima. As it stands, you were appropriately harsh, just against the wrong person.

To put it differently, in the future, you should always do what I do.