How journalism works: The food chain

EVERYBODY in journalism, from top to bottom, understands that a quote or two might be lifted here and there as a story is hauled up the food chain. Nobody is naive to think otherwise. One or two quotes.

But The Daily Telegraph stretched this principle of give and take and turned it into journo eats journo cannabialism with their page 5 lead on Saturday about Camden Council asking bankers in Hampstead for voluntary contributions.

[Spot the difference: CNJ on Thursday and then the Daily Telegraph on Saturday]

This is the third most prominent page in the Telegraph – and yet all of the quotes are simply scalpeled from the Camden New Journal‘s front page last week. Not one of the quotes is unique. Of course, maybe the writer who recreated the story spoke to exactly the same people as I did –and those people gave exactly the same quotes, word for word. Yeah, maybe that happened. Click copy, click paste, may also of happened.

Two things. One: a little ‘told the New Journal’ would be classier when you are stretching the one or two quote lift convention. Two: It must be a worry for us – writers and readers – that a paper with such a long history and importance in the industry can print a story like this on page 5 without making their own calls to Theo, Tulip, Andrew and Keith. They aren’t hard to get hold of. If I was the editor, it’d be the least I’d expect.

Hey ho – we’ve been here before.

2 Comments on How journalism works: The food chain

  1. Paul Braithwaite // January 31, 2011 at 10:57 pm //

    Well, the ripple effect has carried a CNJ’s true front page scoop through a slothful Telegraph journalist who stole it wholesale for Saturday’s paper, and on today to the BBC local TV news.

    At least the Beeb showed CNJs flying out of dispensers. Passers by in sunny sybaritic Primrose Hill today gave a predictable range of responses.

    Then came interviews outside our very own Town Hall with both Theo B, who looked a bit embarrassed and Andrew Menear – who suggested it was a rather pathetic PR stunt.

    Meanwhile, Maya de Souza claims to be the progenitor who says she gave the idea to Theo. In a comprehensive lead letter in “a rival local paper” last week, she wrote at length about how “we” (sic) the Greens would solve the economic crisis. And, sure enough, this idea to unlock philanthropy is therein. There only one Maya!

    So now we know where Theo is getting ideas. Or maybe it’s just great minds think alike?

  2. Theo Blackwell // February 1, 2011 at 12:40 am //

    And where, pray, were the once mighty lib dems in all of this?

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