Posted by: secretperson | October 25, 2008

Why Blogs are Best – MSM Blatant Lazy Plagiarism

After my Agincourt post I had a look at some of the other media coverage, and couldn’t help noticing some similarities in the way it had been reported. I have heard it said before that journalists do nothing but regurgitate what they get from news agencies, and in this case it definitely looks true. I take most of my stories direct from the press, but at least I use my own words.

Compare the Telegraph and Daily Mail stories.

Mail: “the stories that Henry’s troops were hugely outnumbered are a lie”
Telegraph: “claims that the English were hugely outnumbered a lie”

M: “distinguished French historian Christophe Gilliot”
T: “Christophe Gilliot, a distinguished French historian”

M: “It took place on Friday, October 25 in 1415 after a force led by Henry engaged the French at Agincourt, a small village not far from Calais in northern France.”
T: “It was on Friday October 25 1415 – St Crispin’s Day – that a force led by Henry V engaged the French at Agincourt, a small village not far from Calais in northern France.”

M: “The traditional story is that the English army, made up mainly of archers using longbows, massacred a vast force of French noblemen.”
T: “The English army, made up mainly of archers using longbows, massacred a vast force of noblemen in the most famous battle of the Hundred Years’ War.”

M: “The battle – part of the Hundred Years War – has become a byword for English heroism in the face of insurmountable odds.”
T: “Agincourt has since become a byword for English heroism in the face of apparently insurmountable odds.”

M: “But detailed bureaucratic records from the army of the French king, Charles VI, reveal it was made up of 9,000 travelling soldiers, perhaps with another 3,000 local troops.”
T: “In fact, detailed bureaucratic records of French king Charles VI’s army reveal that they were made up of 9000 travelling soldiers, perhaps with another 3000 locals from the Picardy region where the battle took place.”

M: “This compares with a total force of 12,000 which travelled to France with Henry – although 3,000 were lost during the preceding siege of Harfleur.”
T: “This compares to the total force of 12000 who travelled to France with Henry, although some 3000 were lost during the preceding siege of Harfleur, and through dysentery.”

M: “English chroniclers writing in the years following the battle wrongly claimed that there were as many as 150,000 French, compared with 6,000 English soldiers.”
T: “English chroniclers writing in the years following the battle have wrongly claimed that there were as many as 150,000 French, compared to 6000 odd English.”

M: “But Professor Anne Curry, a military historian from Southampton University, admitted that many accounts of the battle have been exaggerated to give the impression of ‘plucky little England against the evil French’.”
T: “Professor Anne Curry, a military historian from Southampton University, admitted that many accounts of the battle have been exaggerated to give the impression of “plucky little England” against the evil French.’ ”

Apart from some minor details, or a slightly different choice of order, the two pieces are nearly word for word identical. Any students attempting to hand in essays in similar style would be rightly accused of plagiarism. Are we really paying journalists, when we buy a newspaper, to simply reproduce someone else’s words? It’s just embarrassing.

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