December 23, 2004

Plagiarizing the Fockers? Compare this review with this review.

Right now these are the first linked articles on Google News about the new movie "Meet the Fockers". Whole paragraphs are copied wholesale, but the copier also did some rewording: "You can't argue with the talent involved" becomes "No one can doubt the talents involved." And then the opening paragraph of the CNN review ("Laughter is based on the unexpected...") was shifted to the middle of the China View review. Finding the other similarities is left as an exercise for the reader... This reminded me of the classic "Congress Demands New Stadium" incident where an Onion article got reported as truth. (Sadly, the original aricle is now behind pay-only doors.) (I'm assuming that the CNN review is the legit one, since it lists an author and the style is more consistent.) Presumably there's nothing CNN can do about a paper in another country, but it made me wonder what standards Google and other news aggregators use to select their sources. In any case, I won't be rushing out to see this movie.

  • Maybe its syndicated
  • Stan - bottom of the Xinhua piece says 'agencies' meaning they've compiled it from newswires. No doubt the CNN guy did similar. There's plenty of suckitude at Xinhua though. check out this post at where they find a Xinhua story that went live with the proofreading comments still in. They also have an unhealthy (if understandable) obsession with Naomi Campbell.
  • what abiezer said. often papers will take a story i've written, add or edit a few graphs (usually to localize), subtract my byline and use "From Wire Services" as the tagline. which, i might add, is a heck of a lot less annoying than the new york times STEALING my story and using its reporter/reporters to rewrite the entire piece, using MY sources and ideas, and claiming it as its own. which happens more often than you'd think.
  • Isn't Xinhua the same Chinese Government-operated news outlet that got fooled by an Onion article? If I recall, that was the one where the Congress was going to turn the Capitol building into a SuperDome with retractable roof? Or am I thinking of a different Chinese news site?
  • Oh my fucking god .... plagarism! on the Internet!!!
  • Oh my freaking gosh .... people copying other people! on tha InterWeb!!!
  • Oh my frocking gimlet ... I canna find my pants!
  • Also, you'll find a lot of lazy movie reviewers who copy entire paragraphs from the press kit the movie studio sends them. This happened a lot while I was a movie reviewer in Houston -- I'd read the press kit (which I was always careful to avoid quoting unless I was doing it to be funny), then I'd read reviews (from highly paid yet moronic reviewers, but don't get me started on that) that were near verbatim repeats of the kit. Studios do this on purpose, to turn many reviews into little more than unpaid ads for their films.
  • In my former life as a reviewer, I found press kits extremely useful in feeding me character names, plot points and so forth that I'd forgotten. I also spent the past fortnight reading xinhua, which is an absolutely dead poor excuse for news.
  • In my former life as a complete dumbfuck, I did things which at the time were completely without creative justification, but which, with hindsight and 20 years of alcoholism behind me, I can admit to in an anonymous blog without qualms, completely ignoring the fact that I am a talentless piece of shit who should be shot thru' the head until dead. Meanwhile, let's make fun of those who have the jobs that we *used* to have, while feeling massively superior. Bwaaak Bwaak bwwwaaak. Hello! BANG!
  • Don't be so hard on yourself, Nostril.
  • No... I'm pretty much a moronic dumbfuck in this life, too. And, I admit as much on my (very much signed, and very stupid) blog.
  • I just have a problem when (in the example I used above about the moronic movie reviewer) the reviewer for the biggest paper in town, who is paid handsomely for his work, pretty much reprints the press kit in his review while I worked hard to try and write something that was both amusing and useful to my readers, for $50 an issue. (Of course, said reviewer also used a very bright flashlight to keep notes during screenings, ruining everyone elses' view of the movie, and once kicked the back of my chair through an entire screening when I made a snarky comment about him in my paper.) In the end, though, I'll admit that I was probably mad at him less because I was a better writer, and more because he got paid so much to do so little.