March 14, 2012

The Daily Mail is again being accused of stealing a story without offering proper credit.

Abigail Pesta, editorial director of Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s Women in the World section, wrote a piece about a women who refused an arranged marriage. She wrote it as an “as told to piece,” meaning it was written in the woman’s voice. That story was published March 5.

On March 9, the Daily Mail ran its own story about the same woman. Rather than being in first person, it was in third person. But the Mail’s story consists entirely of the Newsweek content, with some details about a separate crime in Canada tacked on at the end.

“The Daily Mail basically reprinted the entirety of my 700-word piece,” Pesta wrote in an email to Poynter. “It used my original reporting and lifted my phrases and sentences, verbatim. Some side-by-side comparisons are below; there are more where these came from. Although The Daily Mail did make a glancing reference to Newsweek’s sister website, The Daily Beast, it’s the tiniest fig leaf of attribution.”

The Mail story includes a single attribution to the Beast early, but it does not link out.

Below is a sample comparison of passages from the two stories. Some parts were copied directly, while others were slightly rearranged.

NEWSWEEK: According to the United Nations, 5,000 women and girls are murdered around the world each year for “shaming” the family by acting in ways deemed disobedient or immodest.

DAILY MAIL: According to the United Nations, 5,000 women and girls are murdered around the world each year for ‘shaming’ the family by acting in ways deemed disobedient or immodest.

NEWSWEEK: I lived in a room with around 30 other girls—no chairs, no beds, no ventilation. In that room, we did nothing all day but study the Quran, pray, and listen to lectures on the prophet from a mullah, who stood behind a curtain. If a girl spoke out of turn, she would be publicly caned in the courtyard of the compound. Flies and vermin swarmed the washrooms. There were no sanitary napkins, just blood-stained towels.

DAILY MAIL: There were no chairs or beds, flies and vermin swarmed the bathrooms, and there were no sanitary napkins, only blood-stained towels. The girls spent all day studying the Koran, praying and listening to lectures about the prophet. Any girl who spoke out of turn would be publicly caned in a courtyard.

NEWSWEEK: A crowd of men formed, hooting and catcalling.

DAILY MAIL: After she attracted hoots and catcalls from a group of men…

NEWSWEEK: There I started a new life, changing my name and converting to Catholicism.

DAILY MAIL: There she began a new life, changing her name and converting to Catholicism.

NEWSWEEK: We fought about swimming lessons and acting classes, which my father said were for prostitutes. Tampons were an issue, too—my mother thought they would ruin my virginity.

DAILY MAIL: Her father even thought acting classes were for prostitutes, she said, while her mother believed using tampons would ‘ruin’ her virginity.

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Craig Silverman ( is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Regret the Error, a blog that reports on media errors and corrections, and trends…
Craig Silverman

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