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Journalism

Apr 14, 2014

Daily Tele state political reporter resigns amid plagiarism probe

Senior Daily Telegraph journalist Phil Jacob has been exposed lifting copy from other sources for his pieces. News Corporation says he no longer works at the paper.

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A Crikey investigation has uncovered a series of highly questionable articles published in The Daily Telegraph that appear to borrow — liberally and in some cases word-for-word — from reports in other publications.

The reports were all penned by Daily Telegraph state political reporter Phil Jacob, who was slapped down on the ABC’s Media Watch program two weeks ago for lifting quotes from a report in The Age to illustrate a story about rail commuters. But it appears this wasn’t the only time Jacob has lifted copy from stories other than his own.

Though most of Jacob’s stories appear to be entirely original, Crikey did find a number of examples of lifted copy and quotes, often from international sources and occasionally from the Fairfax press.

Crikey contacted Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker as well as News Corporation corporate affairs to ask for an explanation this morning. We were told by a News Corp spinner that Jacob resigned two weeks ago, shortly after the Media Watch story (the spokesman declined to comment on the reason for Jacob’s resignation).

In one piece on Facebook’s IPO, Jacob appears to have borrowed liberally from a Daily Mail story published two days earlier. Six paragraphs appear almost word-for-word in the Mail piece. Here is the Tele‘s piece:

And here is the Daily Mail‘s:

A 1451-word feature on Apple TV also contains several highly suspicious passages, with both quotes and long sentences appearing word-for-word in the Tele piece, which appeared two months after a feature on the same topic published by Bloomberg. Crikey could not find the Tele story (titled “Apple TV: Guess what’s in the box” and appearing on November 10, 2012) online, but we did find a copy through Factiva. According to its archive, the Daily Tele piece reads in part:

Apple is vying with the likes of Google, Microsoft and Amazon.com to make TVs rather than PCs the digital hub of people’s lives in an industry analysts project to reach $US200 billion worldwide by 2017. Whoever wins must first strike deals with media companies or cable providers who have little incentive to cede valuable revenue streams

“It’s not a nice, simple, easy story that Apple is going to come in and turn the world upside down and we’re all going to live happily ever after,” says Craig Moffett, an analyst with American company Sanford C. Bernstein & Co in a note to clients, who has been studying the cable industry for two decades. Moffett also warns any notion Apple could soon unveil its TV system “ignores the business realities that make this such a complicated industry”.

In recent negotiations, the main stumbling blocks with cable companies have included a tussle for control over the software that determines the screen interface — in other words, the look and feel of the viewer’s experience. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, and US cable providers have also diverged on whether a new Apple TV set-top box should be sold directly to customers or leased through cable providers, say people familiar with the talks. So far, Apple’s television effort has been limited to the Apple TV, a small box that streams movies and shows and other content from the web for $A100. But unlike set-top devices from cable providers, it doesn’t deliver live broadcasts or record shows.

This bears a striking similarity to this on Bloomberg:

The use of wire services and syndication agreements can often result in something appearing like plagiarism when a payment, not always clear to the reader, has been made to legitimately use the content. Crikey asked The Daily Telegraph if any such agreements were in place with either the Daily Mail or Bloomberg that could explain the use of highly similar language, but have yet to receive a response on this point.

Nonetheless, it’s extremely hard to believe News Corp holds a syndication agreement with Fairfax, which means that unless both the Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald lifted copy straight out of wire service AAP, both without disclosing it, no such agreement can explain the following. On October 17, 2012 Jacob wrote an article on Nine’s then debt troubles, which contained the following passages:

Here’s the SMH article by Fairfax journalists Michael Idato and Colin Kruger, who wrote:

Jacob was 24 when he was a finalist in the Cleo Bachelor of the Year competition last year. According to his LinkedIn page, he graduated from university in 2011, joining News Corp as The Daily Telegraph‘s business editor in July that year. He was made state political reporter in January. According to the Tele’s response to Media Watch, from the March 30 program, Jacob was “disciplined and counselled”.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

Myriam has been Crikey’s media reporter since 2014. Before that, she was a business journalist with sister site SmartCompany, covering economics and corporate strategy.

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