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The Sky’s the Limit!

February 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

My blog has not been running long enough to know exactly who my readership are. I suspect many are UK journalists and PRs (probably due to all the Twitter links I post) while no doubt a number of TrustedReviews’ more avid readers have tracked me down. Hopefully some of you arrived here completely by chance – I’d like to think that’s the power of the World Wide Web. Whatever your make up however I suspect you may have heard something about what I’m about to discuss…

Here are the facts: on Friday 13 March I managed to scoop a fairly large story about the secretive mass recall of faulty Sky+HD digiboxes. It wasn’t life changing but as it affected 90,000 subscribers (approximately 10% of Sky’s entire HD user base) relevant nonetheless. The story was popular with our readers and two or three rival sites popped up articles kindly sourcing back to me. In short come Friday evening the Google News aggregator page looked like this:

sky-hd-tr-exclusive1

In truth I had probably expected more sites to pick up the story but I suspect given it was late on a Friday before a large majority of the tech world jetted off to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona meant – understandably – their focus was elsewhere. Fast forward four whole days however and as MWC news began to dry up the sniffing around began again and guess what tasty little story they found? Yep, by February 17th the Google News UK aggregator page looked like this:

sky-hd-rivals

I was rather flattered. I presumed something additional must have been dug up for such a media frenzy. I was wrong it was just what I had reported four days earlier. Furthermore, on flicking through a few of the more major sites (broadsheets, BBC, etc) to my horror I discovered not a single, solitary credit back to TrustedReviews for my industry. This wouldn’t be so bad if a number hadn’t directly ripped off the quotes posted on our comments section by an appreciably hackled Sky+HD Team. Co-incidence? In some publications without the quotes – quite likely, in orders absolutely not it was word for word.

Of course no one is perfect. Bemoaning the problem on Twitter I was rather sternly reminded of my own shortcomings by my friend Ian Morris, the Television, DVD and PVR editor at CNet. He pointed out that 2 years ago I had posted a story and failed to credit him for the discovery. I had fallen victim to the ‘via curse’ which afflicts much web based journalism. This is where a story is written linking to the site where the author found the information without tracking down the original source. Following them all back can sometimes work, but not always. That said, it was my fault, I should have dug deeper and a few quick words (I’ll not repeat the exact colourful phraseology) sorted it. The difference is it wasn’t intentional and I ultimately held my hands up.

Funnily enough I pretty much took Ian’s head off for pointing this out during a rather undignified public battle. I was still rather raw so Ian – if you’re reading this – apologies.

Before I get too far off topic however let me conclude with this: I expected better. I expected better of myself when I failed to spot Ian’s original article 2 years ago and I expect better of the high profile national press who knowingly rip off the hard work of others. Now I’m sure I’m overreacting. My editor said I should ‘suck it up’ and he’s right, after I vent this Riyad I will. But the worst aspect in what essentially amounts to theft is it isn’t even unusual, for many it is common business practice. I’ve heard numerous horror stories far worse than my own example since this occurred and they all left an impression. Each is locked in tight – as is the tarnished image of my profession.

…Ok, Riyad. I’ve Sucked Up.

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