Lakbimanews – a sneeze from the past


Lakbimanews English newspaper in Sri Lanka has a history of plagiarising blog content. It would copy text off blogs and use the blogger’s handle/name as the “article”‘s author – without every mentioning the blog’s URL. This made the article appear to be the work of one of the paper’s columnists writing under a pen name. Not content grabbed off the internet.

Naturally there was a major blow up in the Sri Lankan blogosphere when it the paper’s lack of integrity came to light. Theena has a good overview with plenty of supporting links.

I originally found this lack of proper attribution to be troubling given that it came from a major newspaper. The reaction for the paper’s editorial big wig to getting caught was both disappointing and funny – at the time.

Personally if they had bothered to ask I’d have happily let them. A small difference yes, but integrity is consistently proven by “small” acts. Not by pompous gestures.

I never bothered to find out if the paper had grabbed any of my earlier posts before this “incident”. Looks like it has. It had grabbed my post about Dr. Manique Gunesekara’ book The Post-colonial Identity of Sri Lankan English. My original post was titled “Sri Lankan English: A fascinating book I actually read” dated May 5th 2007. The plagiarised version is dated 24th June 2007. Seems like Manshark’s post on the Galle Literary festival is another one of the appears in amputated form as one the “articles” for that day.

The Lakbimanews paper clearly lost an opportunity to engage with readers via the medium of blogging -something the Daily mirror’s blog centre has done. Worse it lost its credibility among a group of people who would have happily and willingly written for it had the paper demonstrate some integrity.

Maybe the powers that be at Lakbimanews learned something from the process though I have my doubts. Sadly, there seems to be continuing skirmishes between a particular personality at the paper and Sri Lankan bloggers.

Which is sad but such are the choices of other. Personally I consider this sort of past behaviour water under the bridge (How’s that for a cliché? ). I wish it will do the right thing. Being I bit of a cynic I won’t hold my breath. 😉

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9 thoughts on “Lakbimanews – a sneeze from the past

  1. No surprise considering Rajpal is the Editor. He seems to have a bone to pick with the arty crowd doesn’t he? He wrote a rambling critique on the recent Forum Theatre thing. Maybe he’s a failed author/novelist/playwright etc?

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  2. Could have been simple misunderstanding? They did attribute the published pieces to the blogger concerned, I wonder if it was necessary to publish the URL as well?

    Seeking prior permission would have been good though but try to keep engaging them, they may have been more careless or sloppy than unethical.

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  3. The-Benevolent-Dictator & poetlost: What arty crowd? 😐

    Jack Point: I initially thought so as well but after following howling that went on after the “Lakbimanews issue” last year, I’m doubtful if they were genuinely ignorant. Maybe its the arrogance of being a newspaper.

    My pick about their attribution issue is that they hide the fact that the person writing the article is not a staff writer. Essentially the fact that the content wasn’t generated by the publication. They also don’t disclose the source of the content. Both sneaky given that they didn’t get permission for it in the first place.

    Silly and sloppy, up to a point. It might seem to be a small thing but it is unethical. For anyone – be it a blog or a newspaper.

    At least it gives me something to blog about 🙂

    Now I have to explain to myself why I’m up so late 😉 but that’s thankfully off the blog and topic 😉

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  4. Ian: Lakbimanews is an English language newspaper “major” enough to spend on billboard advertising. Anyway, plagarism is a major form of content generation for quite a few publications. Its just that Lakbimanews was caught with its pants down 😉

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  5. chaarmax: I’ll still keep it and name and shame them with a post when I catch them. Eventually it will catch up on them. Google “Lakbimanews” and see what you get 😉 Both our posts about Lakbimanews are on the first page 😈

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  6. What we need to do is.. publish a Copyright notice.. and another notice for Lakbima.. hopefully all bloggers will rally and display the same notice.. a sign of protest that bloggers will not stand to be trampled on like this..

    Contents may include some points like :

    *Although the Internet is a Public Domain, we as bloggers are protected by our CC license. Therefore you have no right to copy our work.
    *Although we don’t mind you publishing our work with due recognition (not only blog author’s name but website link) and after contacting us (by leaving a comment on the said post) we do not want our work appearing in a Newspaper that does not recognize Blogger’s rights. Therefore don’t bother copying at all.
    * Mr. Rajpal.. see you in court.

    Ok I sound a bit harsh.. but then again.. they deserve nothing but harsh..

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