In last night's post about UPI's misappropriation of copy from multiple Science News articles, I explained that I had asked UPI's executive editor, John Hendel, for a more complete response to my questions about UPI's practices. In his first email response, Hendel told me that the offending article would be rewritten. I had already noted three articles in which UPI stories were very close paraphrases, and in some parts copies, of Science News stories. I also reminded him that he had said much the same thing a year ago when Science News complained.
In a second email I received this morning, Hendel said this, in full:
I didn't recall that the earlier instance was from the same publication. When such instances are brought to our attention we respond as quickly as possible and appropriately. The more recent instance is from a different writer than the April 2011 article. As we do when such problems are pointed out to us, we have spoken with the writer to stress that that is not our practice and we strive to make it so such issues don't arise again. He has expressed remorse, which we believe is genuine.
If we find there is a trend of continuing violations along this line (generally if they happen, they are found in the editing process), we sever relationships with that stringer.
We do try very hard to avoid this and our writers are reminded often to appropriately attribute the source of the information, whether a journal, news release or another publication. It is an ongoing process for us to watch for this.
That's not enough. It is not enough to rewrite stories or to speak to the writer. Management has an obligation to review editorial practices from top to bottom, to institute tough new policies regarding plagiarism, and to apologize to news organizations from which it has borrowed copy. Science News articles are not press releases to be lightly rewritten by UPI reporters and passed off as original.