Premium Times, Punch Battle Each Other Over Plagiarism Claims
On Thursday, an online News Medium Premium Times had claimed exclusivity for breaking the News, and making the letter available for download in PDF format. Premium Times claimed it had exclusively obtained the said letter before every other media both Print and Online copied it version without giving credit to the medium.
The accusation of plagiarism from Premium Times did not sit well with one of the print medium accused of such blatant unprofessionalism and it issued a statement debunking Premium Times claim.
A statement from The Punch reads:
The online news medium, Premium Times, on Thursday, falsely accused The PUNCH of republishing its version of the letter that former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote to President Goodluck Jonathan without attribution.
We strongly repudiate this unfounded claim and deplore the online news medium’s recourse to hasty generalization in its bid to claim the moral high ground.
Premium Times was neither the source of the information used in our story nor the source of the text published.
The online medium would have avoided an “ethical flaw”, and served its readers well, if it had been careful to comply with one of journalism’s basic tenets by reaching out to The PUNCH for its side of the story.
This newspaper would have readily shared relevant information pertaining to our story, particularly, the fact that it was obtained from a source in the former President’s office on December 11, 2013 and also provided emails and PDF document containing the 18-page letter in its original form.
That an online news medium publishes a document first does not by any means suggest that it is the only medium (print or online) with the information at the point in time.
Our decision not to state the source of the story was not for the reason stated by the online medium. Indeed, Financial Times (UK) also published the story without stating its source, just like The PUNCH.
PUNCH’s culture of professionalism is its strongest forte. We provide clear attribution when stories are sourced and offer an apology when errors are brought to our notice.
Editor, The PUNCH
This however did not stop there as Premium Times as again refuted The Punch’s claim.
In a new piece titled Obasanjo’s letter sourcing: PREMIUM TIMES replies PUNCH which was published this morning, Premium Times said “We are not called to worry about PUNCH’s internal processes, but after series of representations to authorities at PUNCH about these ethical failures in the past, it will be simply generous to suggest this has not become a systemic and institutional culture.”
The story reads:
One of the papers mentioned, PUNCH, in a rebuttal written by its editor, Martin Ayankola, claimed it had an original source to its reports, therefore had no reason to attribute it.
The paper then sought to trawl in available bedfellows in ethical infraction, suggesting that PREMIUM TIMES failed to contact it before levying charges of presumed ethical failure.PUNCH typically does good journalism but it appears the editorial managers think that is a sufficient shield against ethical failure which even the best media institutions, in all humility, have had to contend with, because, if nothing, that is sufficient to compromise the mission of the media to serve the public and democracy faithfully and effectively.
PUNCH’s first cut on the story entitled: “Jonathan towing the path of Abacha – Obasanjo” indicated that it was written by Segun Adeoye with Agency Report. Its subsequent edition, “Obasanjo Bombs Jonathan” totally dispensed with the alleged “agency” input to the story. The simple question is what “agency” was PUNCH alluding to? We claim strongly and authoritatively that there is no agency that PUNCH is, as indeed, can refer to but we wait to be educated on this.
Certainly PUNCH has no need to brace its position on source accountability by seeking the cover of a godhead like Financial Times to justify plagiarism, or when to dispense with source attribution.
We are not called to worry about PUNCH’s internal processes, but after series of representations to authorities at PUNCH about these ethical failures in the past, it will be simply generous to suggest this has not become a systemic and institutional culture.
PUNCH quite correctly privileges intellectual property rights of content creators. This is evident through its strong copyright policy. What it ought to do now is ensure this goes beyond belief to acquire the status of practical action.
Sadly, on the same day that the editor of the PUNCH was worrying about our complaints of plagiarism, one of his reporters was busy lifting another story from our site, and we just must hope that he has other people’s intellectual property right in mind when he is protecting his own.
We urge him to carefully review the two postings below:
PUNCH version of the story:
The sourcing for this story was entirely ours, and we are the only media outlet that had this exclusive interview with the Rivers Commissioner for Information. This is not hard to prove.
This past November, the paper ran a story written from an interview published on our site without acknowledging us as source. It rather attributed the interview to “an online publication.” Find the interview here.
Here is PUNCH’s unattributed version.
We welcome PUNCH in the challenge to build an ethical platform for our media, we even insist that it must play a leadership role in this effort. This is a paper that has justly earned a plumed place in the history of our media. We always wish it luck and progress.
Managing Editor, PREMIUM TIMES
However, The Paradigm has studied the claim of Premium Times in its latest post and we find the assertion to be somewhat correct.
We are however waiting to see if The Punch will take out time to respond to the latest round of accusation or just apologize for the ethical failure Premium Times had accused it of.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
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