When is plagiarism not considered plagiarism? When the plagiarism is carried out by a globally renowned news organisation? Or when the blatant copy is just dissimilar enough to consider it original? The answer, of course, is that plagiarism is always the unethical (and usually illegal) copying or borrowing of others’ work without properly acknowledging the original author or creator.
In this age of content-driven online and social media, there is a massive pool of talent-poor self-styled ‘creators’ who claim to be generating unique content all the time in their desperate scramble to gratify the masses greedy for endless new stories, pictures, videos, and memes in their news feeds, when in fact they are often just copying what they saw on others’ feeds, and in some instances, directly reposting content found elsewhere. Obviously, they can claim that the information is already in the public domain once it is online, or that they are adding their own interpretation to make it original, but this really is clutching at straws.
However, what makes this example of alleged plagiarism particularly shocking is that the plagiarist is someone working for the BBC! The lines between social media content and news media content may be blurring, but surely reporters and editors at the BBC should be held to a higher standard than the hordes of social media randos reposting and sharing others’ content. Although there may also be an argument to be made that there is nothing new under the sun, stealing others’ ideas and content while doing nothing but a perfunctory attempt to repackage it in order to avoid legal problems is surely the lowest of the low when it comes to journalism. This is made even worse when other undiscerning news media blindly lap it up and repost or even report on it without a second thought, in what is surely just another form of plagiarism. Does anyone care about ethical standards in the news anymore?