Plagiarism? You be the judge

Stuff is carrying a story on its frontpage by Harry Pearl and Nicola Brennan-Tupara about two guys hit by lightning.

Near the bottom of the article is this sentence:

The charge of a lightning bolt – a tube of ionised air as thick as a thumb – is about 300,000 degrees Celsius. That’s the same temperature as the surface of the Sun.

An astute reader thought something was amiss…especially about the temperature claim. He thought they should be talking about the unit of electrical charge which is the coulomb. He found that a google search on the exact phrase “a tube of ionised air as thick as a thumb” showed a 2008 article by Carolyne Meng-Yee on the NZ Herald website.

A lightning bolt is a tube of ionised air as thick as a thumb. The charge is about 300,000C – the same temperature as the surface of the sun.

An interesting coincidence of words?

As there is no independent source that Google can find for this or related text, we must then assume that Stuff have clearly plagiarised the NZ Herald content, which in itself is erroneous. Note the order of words is altered, indicating they knew what they were doing. Google is smart enough to show results for “iononized”, but there are no other results other than these two articles.



It is small beer, but one easily found. What do you think?


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.