Is there a culture of Plagiarism at the Post-Copier – eh, Courier?

Papua New Guinea’s “Number 1 Daily” – the Post-Courier – and its award-winning political reporter, Gorethy Kenneth, have found themselves in the shameful position of committing the number one cardinal sin in journalism – plagiarism.

It is a most serious offense and goes against the Media Council of Papua New Guinea’s General Code of Ethics for News and Media – which the Post-Courier subscribes to, or claims to do.

On August 9, 2012 – in their 11,000 Edition since 1969, the Post-Courier ran a story on their front page titled “O’Neill delays Cabinet line-up” and with the sub-heading “Leo Dion is deputy PM”.

In that front-page article, Gorethy Kenneth quoted The Garamut and plagiarized a line from a post I had written and published on August 8, 2012 regarding Peter O’Neill’s appointment of Leo Dion as deputy prime minister, all without attributing the quote or plagiarized line to The Garamut.

In objection to the Post-Courier’s blatant plagiarism of my blog post, I wrote a letter to the Editor, Frank Genaia, and Editor-in-Chief of the Post-Courier, Blaise Nangoi.

I also sent a copy of the letter to Mr Peter Chegwyn – the Chairman of South Pacific Post Ltd, the company which owns the Post-Courier, and also to the author of the offending piece of journalism, Gorethy Kenneth.

I have yet to receive any response to my letter.

In addition to writing the letter, I also posted a thread on the popular PNG Facebook group Sharp Talk – which to date has generated 107 ‘Likes’ and 255 comments.

An interesting facet of posting my concerns on Sharp Talk was the general feedback received that it wasn’t the first example of plagiarism by the Post-Courier. Other people too mentioned that they had their work copied and pasted by not just the Post-Courier, but also by other media in PNG too.

One of the most concerning examples must be the Post-Courier’s inexplicable copying and pasting of an article by Australian journalist Oliver Milman, who recently wrote a piece on deep-sea mining in PNG for The Guardian on August 6, 2012.

Ironically, that article was published on the Post-Courier’s front page too – but on August 8, 2012 (Edition 10,999) – one day before bits of my blog post made their way to the Post-Courier’s cover to be distributed around the country.

It was also ‘written’ by the same journalist in question – Gorethy Kenneth.

Fellow PNG blog, Papua New Guinea Mine Watch, picked up on the fact that the Post-Courier and Gorethy Kenneth had incredulously copied large sections of Milman’s work for The Guardian and claimed it as their own original piece of journalism without an iota of recognition whatsoever.

That blog post was consequently picked up by The Guardian which responded by publishing their own story shaming the Post-Courier in one of their columns on August 13, 2012, while highlighting the connection between the Post-Courier and Rupert Murdoch’s phone-hacking scandal:

“But the broom, we fear, hasn’t quite swept clean other parts of the Murdoch empire, where still there are alleged transgressions that would worry Lord Justice Leveson. One such is a big story that appeared last week on the front page of Murdoch’s Post-Courier in Papua New Guinea.”

It is one thing for the Post-Courier to be pinged for plagiarism by a blogger, and another thing altogether for the same paper to be publicly embarrassed by one of the largest newspapers in the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, two cases of plagiarism in consequent editions, by the same author and published on the front-page as the paper’s lead story of the day is beyond alarming – it’s a signal that something is not quite right with the Post-Courier.

The Post-Courier’s brazenness at copying and pasting large portions of other people’s words is truly gob-smacking; and their passing on of this work as their own without any relevant attribution or recognition is utterly disgraceful and is simply unacceptable.

At the end of the day, the buck stops with the Editors of the paper, and it appears in this instance – and without any sort of response or apparent effort expended to defend their paper’s integrity or reputation – that both Editor Frank Genaia and Editor-in-Chief Blaise Nangoi are not just accepting of the practice – but by publicly seen to be doing nothing about the issue, are passively encouraging the practice to fester.

NOTE: Read my letter to the Post-Courier here.

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~ by Tavurvur on August 15, 2012.

14 Responses to “Is there a culture of Plagiarism at the Post-Copier – eh, Courier?”

  1. Thank you @Tavurvur. Lets see some head roll so we can see some form of professionalism get established. The next thing for Post-Courier to do would be to look at the quality of writing. My 11 and 9 year old do a better job.

    • ‘Mazev’ – I want the Post-Courier to take this issue seriously. How can media organizations in PNG crow about keeping the government in check, and about media freedom in PNG, when they abuse that freedom – and can’t even keep their own organizations in check? Rgds, Tavurvur.

  2. What was so hard with apologising Post Courier? This blog post will certainly reflect on your reputation and economic perfomance in PNG.

    Overall, does this mean technology is making the next generation more passive in their work performance? An example (http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2012/s3557618.htm) would be South Korea the whole country is going nuts about internet gaming. They practically worship the best gamer.

    Come on journos stick to old school methodologies of writing a great story!

  3. As a fan/follower of this Blog, I am very disappointed and frustrated with what Post Courier has done.
    Something serious has to be done to them and they must pay.
    It is a shame and I call it a crime to make money out of somebody else’s story.
    This looks like PC is continually doing it. But it must be stopped.

    • ‘Stern Cootes’ – Thank you for the support. I went on to the Media Council of PNG’s website, and it appears that it has not been updated in 2 years! So I’m not sure exactly who is supposed to be in charge of media standards in PNG. Apart from writing about this issue, who am I supposed to lodge a formal complaint to that can call up the Post-Courier and say – “pull your socks up, or ship out”? Rgds, Tavurvur.

  4. Plagiarism is a serious crime and if no apology is forthcoming from the Post Courier I suggest that you take appropriate action. This nonsense must stop asap as this not the first time and most importantly we cannot continue to allow lazy and ignorant journalist to enjoy the benefit of someone elses hard work – it’s a shame!

  5. Tavurvur they owe you for this. One thing is our media also need to be monitored more closely, to ensure standards, and ethics in journalism. Who knows whats next, phone tapping, email hacking????

    • ‘Pom Observer’ – That’s what concerns me. I am all for media freedom in PNG. I’m a big believer in it and have supported it in the past. But how “free” should media be free? There must be standards – or a code of ethics that must be adhered to; and when breached, must be rectified in terms of what has been breached. When media begin to think that they can write what they want, how they want – even if it means copying other people’s work – and get away with it, then that worries me greatly. Rgds, Tavurvur.

  6. From what I understand the Media Council is no longer a working entity. In recent times a new group was formed called the PNG Media Workers Association. I think Susuve Laumaea may have been in charge.

  7. Journalists plagialism and failure or rather stubidity can not be exerted onto post courier unlesss the editor in chief is also stubid..Gorethy Keneth must and should never appear in the papers! Very shameful and should hibernate for the rest of her life! Anyway, a PNG politician has lead a way! A word by word or rather very similar doctoral thesis by an African was plagialised and a PNGian was awarded a doctrate….I am shamefuly reminded every day by my proffesors not to plagiarise becourse i am a PNGian. What a shame!

    • ‘Jonas Ema’ – Thank you for your comment. If possible, could you please send me an email on tavurvur.blog@gmail.com regarding the above issue you raise – i.e. a PNG politician plagiarizing for a doctorate. I would be interested to pursue this further. Rgds, Tavurvur.

  8. Yes there is a culture of plagiarism at the Post Courier. I noticed your work had been copied because I had read your blog post prior to reading the paper online. I consider the above mentioned articles by Gorethy Kenneth to be an absolute lack of ethics and professionalism. This is plain lazy journalism.
    This is not the first time that this newspaper has done this . I recall the National newspaper editorial of 29 April 2011 calling them up for the same thing. In response to the National’s editorial I wrote a letter to both newspapers regarding the National’s use of a photo of mine in a article on autonomy (October 10 2010p13). This photo appears in a article that was published in the the Pacific eCurrents Journal http://intersections.anu.edu.au/pacificurrents/kenema.htm. The Post Courier was quick to pick up on this http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20110505/The%20drum.htm.

    While the focus here is on Gorethy Kenneth and the Post Courier I think that both our newspapers really need to pick up their game. I have been reading newspapers since I was ten years old and I can say that the good old days of top journalism by the likes of Anna Solomon, Oseah Philemon, late Yehiura Hriewahzi and Noel Pascoe are long gone.

    Tavurvur, please keep us informed via your blog as to whether you get a response.

    • ‘Finah’ – Thank you for this. The more I look into this matter, the more I become concerned about what I find. There is no functioning “peak-media” body in PNG – so how are standards maintained? Does our media simply do as they please and wait till somebody catches them out? Becoming more and more like Murdoch’s phone-tapping scandal in the UK – do anything to get a story. Rgds, Tavurvur.

  9. So is Murdoch indeed paying Milman that “fat cheque” or will they let “poor” Gorethy foot the bill ? LOL….Btw, it wasn’t just the issue of plagiarism, that front-page piece on seabed mining, was a 15 month old news!!!! The Solwara 1 project license was actually issued in January 2011. She must have woken up from a very long sleep :)

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