Saturday 30 January 2010

Plagiarism at the Daily Mail

Following on from yesterday's post, it now appears there are even more difficulties for the Mail and its Editor-in-Chief Paul Dacre.

An article by Robert J. Elisberg at The Huffington Post appears to show a journalist at the Daily Mail indulging in blatant plagiarism.

The story is about a cameo appearance by Dick Van Dyke in a LA theatre production of Mary Poppins.

The problem is Mail hack Chris Johnson's article is suspiciously similar to an LA Times one by Karen Wada, which appeared several hours earlier.

Indeed, as Elisberg points out, Johnson ends his piece with a lengthy direct quote from the LA Times. He just forgets to mention that the seven or so paragraphs before it are also lifted straight from there.

Here's the evidence, as set out by Elisberg. Wada:

Instead he reprised his other (and less well known) screen role - Mr. Dawes Sr., the crotchety bank president and boss of Poppins' boss, Mr. Banks.


Instead the American actor, 84, took on the role of the lesser known character he also played in the 1964 movie - that of crotchety bank president Mr Dawes.

Hmm. There's more. Wada:

Van Dyke had to cajole Walt Disney into giving him the part because Disney thought Van Dyke - then in his 30s - was too young to be the ancient moneyman. The actor reportedly won him over by acing a screen test, agreeing to portray Dawes for free and making a donation to the California Institute of the Arts, which Disney co-founded.


Van Dyke had to persuade Walt Disney into giving him the part in the movie because bosses thought he was too young to play the ancient financier. At the time he was only in his thirties.

But the actor reportedly won them over by acting a screen test, agreeing to portray Dawes for free and making a donation to the California Institute of the Arts, which Disney co-founded.

As Elisberg says:

In the plagiarism biz, this is not good at all. A direct steal. (The funniest thing, though, is that the British Johnson apparently didn't know what "acing" a test was and "fixed" it, seemingly thinking it was a typo for "acting").

It's almost as if Johnson isn't that clever...

Wada again:

Van Dyke had a much easier time getting the chance to play the tottering, doddering banker at the Ahmanson.

And Johnson:

Van Dyke slipped into the role much easier as she [sic] played the tottering banker at the Ahmanson.

Oh dear. And it's not over yet. Wada:

After seeing the Disney-Cameron Mackintosh production of 'Poppins' when it opened here in November, he volunteered to join the cast for a cameo. Dawes - a character not included in the stage musical - was written into a pivotal scene in which Banks finds out whether he's going to lose his job.


After seeing the Disney-Cameron Mackintosh production of Poppins after it opened there in November, he volunteered to join the cast for a cameo.

The character of Mr Dawes was not included in the stage musical - but was written into a scene so Dick Van Dyke could reprise his role.

It is in a scene where Mr Banks, Mary Poppins's boss, finds out whether he is going to lose his job.

Elisberg sums it up nicely:

Almost word-for-word. Much of it exactly word-for-word. I know Mary Poppins sang, 'Every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake' - but this is carrying it beyond extremes.

Dacre has wrongly claimed that the Mail doesn't do 'churnalism' but this copy-and-paste job goes beyond that.

Dacre, of course, is Chair of the Code of Practice Committee which makes the rules to which journalists are meant to adhere. He already edits the most complained about newspaper in Britain and now one of his minions has been caught plagiarising.

When will the Code Committee realise he is not fit to Chair it?

(Many thanks to reader Tom Baggs for the tip)


  1. And when he changes 'cajole' to 'persuade' he forgets to change the preposition - it's persuade to, not persuade into...

  2. Wow. It's exactly the same. Except less well written. ("Slipped into the role much easier" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.)

    The "acing"/"acting" a test thing is pretty funny.

    I'd love to see how they defend this...

  3. I'd love to see how they defend this...

    I'm guessing if they do, it'll be via a massive grovelling 2-line 'clarification' splashed across the foot of column 5 on page 63 of the September 28th 2010 edition, just under the Shinty results.

  4. Aww, they are no longer accepting comments on the Daily Mail website, I was hoping to cut and paste the comments from the LA Times website

  5. They have form for this. A few years back a popular TV nostalgia site found its in-depth, original article on Blue Peter presenters had been lifted word-for-word and printed in the Mail. Emails flew back and to, and the justification by the Fail was "there isn't any rule against copying stuff off a website, is there?"

  6. For another example of blatant Daily Mail plagiarism, compare the two recent articles below.

    The sentences have been shuffled around a bit, but the Daily Mail "journalist", Anny Shaw, didn't bother to change much beyond that.

    Any way to publicize this latest example of journalistic theft?

  7. Anonymous - The two articles are clearly too similar for it to be a coincidence - but do you have proof as to which came first?

    Please do email if you have more details

  8. Hi, I'm a copy editor at a Chinese newspaper. Led to this site after typing "Daily", "Mail" and "Plagiarism" into google following a suspiciously similar article to one I worked on appearing on the Mail's has no byline, and no credit for our original article. Oh, and they screwed up their slight attempt at a rewrite by referring to "the city's Special Administrative Zone", whereas, infact, the city is IN the SAR. Duh.




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