Sunday, July 13, 2008

Internet Fix: Journalism Made Simple at Gulf News

By John Cheeran
Old habits die hard.
Ask any journalist, s/he will tell you.
Internet has eased the lives of typists masquerading as journalists. Offenders often try to couch their plagiarism by claiming to do research. And in the Middle East journalism, ‘lifting’ stories is a way of life.
On July 12, 2008, Gulf News Sport section carried a horse racing preview for the Ascot Summer Miles Stakes, where the Dubai-based stable Godolphin ran, as the lead story.
It’s a by line story. When a newspaper lets you take a by line, it’s a signal to readers that here the writer has done some hard work to ferret out information. A newspaper, normally, should take pride in by line stories because that’s what it gives a distinct voice in a crowded media market.
In this STAR RETURNS story, the Gulf News journalist has stooped so low to denigrate the newspaper and his profession by lifting the entire story from the website of the stable Godolphin,
The Gulf News horse racing expert normally pretends that he has a direct line to trainer Saeed bin Surour’s thoughts. So in the second paragraph itself, the Gulf News writer says Surour is ‘excited’. In fact it is the Godolphin website which says the trainer is ‘excited.’ The Gulf News expert only swallows the same feeling.
And he goes on to quote Surour three times in the story without spelling out whether he actually spoke to the trainer. Camouflaging, at its best.
All quotes attributed to Surour is a straight lift from the preview www.godolphin has published on its site. Godolphin has uploaded its preview at a convenient time for would be plagiarists. At 14.55 hrs. (Read the original preview at
That gives plenty of time for journalists to cook up their own by line stuff.

By not attributing Surour’s quotes to, the Gulf News horse racing specialist has misled his readers and editors. To anyone believing in the integrity of journalism this is nothing but unabashed plagiarism.
No one who has left some pride in his profession and integrity (after more than 20 years in the business) would resort to such desperate measures while taking a by line.
Only when quoting Simon Crisford, the Gulf News horse racing expert refers to the Godolphin website, but again without naming the website’s details.
So by carefully not attributing Surour’s comments to, the Gulf News horse racing expert has tried to claim that his quotes are exclusive.
Take out quotes from this preview which are straight lifts from the godolphin website, there will be only a gaping hole in the place of preview. For that the writer has shamelessly taken a by line!
And any defence on part of the writer that he has not committed plagiarism but only research is shredded to pieces by the last paragraph of his preview.
The Gulf News Preview’s last paragraph, which is not a quote, is a word-to-word lift from
In fact the last seven paragraphs of the Gulf News Preview, by lined by its horse racing expert, is a word-to-word lift from the
Respected sirs, ladies and gentlemen, what should one call this? Please advise me.
Is this journalism?
Faithful Xeroxing of another’s Intellectual Property?
Today I find it highly embarrassing to recall that I once worked for Gulf News.
As the BONEY M song said about Rasputin, “It was a shame how he carried on.”
The tragedy is that he still carries on.

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