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The news media doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to ethics in its work practices, and at Crikey we like to ensure we acknowledge all that journalists do to secure this reputation. But, today, we are handing out a very rare Wankley award not to a news organisation, but to GetUp — the lobby group that says it fights for a “fair, flourishing, and just Australia”.

In pushing its campaign to end offshore processing, GetUp published on its Facebook page a slick video interview with British doctor Nick Martin speaking about what he said were “life-threatening delays” in receiving medical treatment.

But GetUp didn’t produce that interview. It was the result of a months-long investigation by BuzzFeed and the ABC’s 7.30, republished with any mention of the original news organisations edited out of the video — and a GetUp logo added. It used the headline from the BuzzFeed video (“Worse than a war zone”) as its video title but didn’t include it (with the BuzzFeed News logo) in its graphics.

Journalists Paul Farrell (who was at BuzzFeed at the time, and is now with 7.30) and Nick Wray (now with TenDaily) worked on the project with Gina Rushton, who’s one of the few journalists left at BuzzFeed after last week’s cuts. Farrell and Wray both tweeted the video yesterday, pointing out the “clunky” edit to remove references to BuzzFeed.

GetUp responded to their tweets by blaming a lack of sleep: “Not to excuse, but we were moving incredibly fast/on little sleep trying to get as many people as possible to contact their MP about the Medevac Bill, and dropped the ball on credit.”

The organisation didn’t respond to Crikey’s specific questions, but a spokesman said in a statement GetUp shared the “compelling” video to encourage its members to contact their MPs to support the asylum seeker medivac bill. “We were wrong to not provide them with credit for this excellent work, and will ensure that doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The spokesman did not say why there wasn’t a credit on the video, or whether it was GetUp’s usual practice to use content without permission or credit. But the video has since been removed from GetUp’s social media.

Ripping off online content is one of the biggest issues for the news media, with the big media companies often going after websites such as the Daily Mail for repackaging the journalism they have produced. GetUp repeatedly says on its website that it’s committed to fairness, but didn’t respond to Crikey‘s question as to whether it was concerned about the sustainability of the news media.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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