Examiner.com editor: ‘Plagiarism is inexcusable and we try our best to guard against it’

Romenesko+ Misc.
Examiner.com vice president of editorial Travis Henry says he first learned about his contributors’ plagiarism by reading yesterday’s Romenesko+ post, “Examiner.com is caught ‘pulling a Daily Mail’.” He says in an email that “the articles in question have been removed from our site and we have ended our relationship with the contributors who submitted them.” He adds that “this instance is not indicative of the quality of Examiner.com at large,” and that at Examiner University “we include a course on plagiarism and are very clear that plagiarism is prohibited by our terms of use.”


From TRAVIS HENRY, vice president of editorial, Examiner.com: I wanted to offer some thoughts on your post yesterday that mentioned concerns aimed at Examiner.com regarding possible plagiarism of articles from the Missoulian. I want to offer clarification, as we take matters like this very seriously.

The articles in question have been removed from our site and we have ended our relationship with the contributors who submitted them. In fact, your post was the first time we were made aware of which specific pieces of content on Examiner.com the Missoulian had concerns with.

Our legal team spoke with Sherry Devlin from the Missoulian on Tuesday afternoon, providing her information on how to formally submit a take down notice pursuant to the DMCA and in line with policies featured on hundreds of similar sites, and as set forth in our site’s terms of use. We then followed up with an email, explaining the process again, and provided a link directly to the take-down notice requirements set forth in our terms of use, which are the same as those required by the DMCA statute. To take down content, we need a description of the infringing material and the URL where such material is located on Examiner.com. With more than 2.5 million pieces of content, we were unable to locate the articles in question without this information. Furthermore, we never received a reply from Ms. Devlin, and without her description of the content, we did not locate the articles in question.

Gwen Florio is correct when she cited our office as saying that contributors are “…not employees, they’re independent contractors.” All articles on Examiner.com are contributed by various independent third party authors (referred to on our website as “Examiners”), and are selected, written, posted solely by the authors themselves. However, when someone points out problems with material posted by an Examiner, like the Missoulian, we always inform the applicable Examiner and request they remedy the situation (or if we receive a valid take-down notice in compliance with the DMCA, we always pull the material from our site, as we did in this case once the content was identified). In the instance with the complaint from the Missoulian, neither Ms. Florio nor Ms. Devlin provided information on the specific content or the contributor that may have violated our editorial guidelines, and as such we were not able to identify or remove the content in question at the time of the initial request.

Plagiarism is inexcusable and we try our best to guard against it, as do most media organizations. This instance is not indicative of the quality of Examiner.com at large. Our mission has always been to provide original, high-quality content, and we will continue to improve. Today, we enable several quality controls, including an editorial review team made up of veteran journalists, a process for identifying and vetting quality contributors, as well as a training resource, Examiner University, for our Examiners with courses on everything from journalistic ethics to writing in the third person. We include a course on plagiarism and are very clear that plagiarism is prohibited by our terms of use.

We apologize to the Missoulian, and also to all of our contributors who create amazing work every day. This isolated incident is not a reflection on them or Examiner.com.

Thanks for your time.

Travis Henry
Vice President of Editorial
Examiner.com

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  • http://twitter.com/WriterWeegs Laurie Wiegler

    I am not familiar with the aforementioned matter, but I am sure that Examiner handled it responsibly and pulled the plagiarized content.
    I’ve been a contributor to them for over a year, choosing to write for the New Orleans environmental page when the oil spill occurred. I didn’t want to be shackled by pleasing editors, who were trying to please their publishers, who were trying to please their advertisers and so forth. Further, as the story was happening in real time I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for weeks until a publication “bought” one of my ideas.

    I’ve written for hundreds of mainstream publications including Technology Review, Scientific American and AARP, and overall this is my bread and butter. However, without the freedom to write the stories as often and as honestly as I needed to regarding the oil spill, I would have felt constrained.

    The approach even brought me to the attention of UGA, where I spoke with reporters from the NY Times and NPR back in Jan.

    Examiner.com, like all news organizations, does need to be kept in check. But overall, the approach works for thousands of contributors and their readers nationwide.

  • http://markljackson.net Mark L. Jackson

    At least the Examiner, unlike “major” media outlets AFAICT, is actually concerned about plagiarism. Do the Poynter people spend any time checking “main stream media” outlets, or are they too busy appeasing Muslims?

  • http://markljackson.net Mark L. Jackson

    Wow, aren’t you arrogant, and foolish. No doubt you have NEVER done what you claim.

    BTW, I suggest that the Examiner send you a bill, by way of a lawsuit, for calling them plagiarists. You clearly have slandered them. Time to pay up!

  • http://www.facebook.com/roblimo Robin Miller

    Has Examiner.com paid  Missoulian for the articles? 

    My response to whole-article plagiarism like this is to bill the malefactor for my services at the same rate I get from others for freelance copy. If they haven’t paid after 90 days, small claims court. 

    I write for money. I am happy to have you run my work as long as you pay for it. 

    Stealing my work, then removing it from your site, does not pay my bills. I want money, not apologies.