A freelance journalist who worked for weeks on a major investigation into child abuse, only to see the substance of the article almost immediately lifted by other websites including the Daily Mail and Mamamia, has written an impassioned post warning that the practice is damaging the future of quality journalism.
Over the weekend, News Corp’s website news.com.au posted the lengthy piece from former ABC reporter Ginger Gorman. It covered the topic of childhood sexual abuse involving mothers.
Gorman’s original article for News Corp
However, within a few hours, other sites had begun to repost most of the quotes and key information from the story.
Using her own Facebook page, Gorman has gone public with the letter she wrote to Mamamia’s head of news Gemma Garkut and producer Katy Hall. She said she also sent a similar one to the Daily Mail.
A cached version of the Mamamia article, now deleted
After Gorman wrote to Mamamia, the site eventually took the article down. According to Gorman: “Mamamia first edited their version of my article from 900 words to 500. And they took Katy Hall’s byline off it. They then removed the post altogether.”
Gorman: “I wonder how quality journalism will survive” | Pic: Twitter (With permission)
In the note to Mamamia, Gorman wrote:
After being made redundant from the ABC two years ago, I’ve worked incredibly hard to build a freelancing business on my own. My work is high profile but takes many hours of investigative work. I don’t make a lot of money from it; I do it because I believe in it. I want society to be a fairer, more just place to live.
You’d be aware that on the weekend, I published (the) story:
It was the result of hours and hours of work over a number of weeks. And quite a few tears too – because the content is so traumatic. I worked incredibly hard to treat my interviewees with respect.
And in fact, I had to get trauma support myself to deal with the fall out and continue with the story.
Mamamia then published this ripped off version not long after I published my original story:
I’m devastated about this. It’s incredibly hurtful to think Katy probably only spent an hour at most cutting and pasting my story and then putting her own byline online.
You didn’t even acknowledge the source – you didn’t name me or news.com.au in your “story.”
And what about the dignity and trust of the men who I had interviewed and worked so long and hard to protect?
I wonder if have considered what this kind of ‘journalism’ costs society? How will stories like the ones I write actually get told if interviewees can’t trust journalists and decide not to speak out? How will power be held to account?
It also costs me personal distress to see this close-to-the-bone story re-written in this way.
Furthermore – and least important (but not irrelevant) – it costs me income.
Mamamia is well known for stating it is a feminist organisation.
In this light, how can you take my work without paying me for it?
In order for me to continue work like this, I have to pay my mortgage and feed my family. Because my work keeps getting ripped off, it’s becoming impossible.
I’m idealistic and I wonder how quality journalism will survive this terrible practice of taking other people’s work? It does have a consequence.
Honestly. You can’t imagine how shattered I am today.
Meanwhile the Daily Mail version of the article is still online. While it includes a link to the Gorman’s original piece on the News Corp site, it wrongly cites the work as being that of Fairfax Media.
In the Facebook post, Gorman said: “I’m hopeful all this discussion may lead to changes in the industry and perhaps end the practice of journalists ripping off other journalists.”
Mumbrella invited the Daily Mail and Mamamia to comment, but at the time of posting, neither had responded.
The issue has been much talked about over the last three years, with fingers often pointed by News Corp at the Daily Mail.