Is it plagiarism to put your byline on a press release?


Bryce Johns finished up today at the Herald on Sunday as editor. In his last article he states:

We face so many barriers to what we do, particularly the armies of PR spin doctors that inhabit so many of the institutions we report about. They outnumber the journalists, and some take great pride in blocking us in our work.

But they don’t often beat us and readers seem to know that – how else do you explain the paper having the best readership and circulation results in the country over the past three years?

This is a feeling across the media…that they are there to unspin the spin…except when you can plonk your byline on a press release and claim it as your own writing.

On Saturday there was an article about the new waterproof Army Bibles….it is bylined by Kurt Bayer. It is a good article, about something interesting, but if only Kurt had written even a third of the words himself. The words highlighted in Yellow are directly lifted without editing from the Army press release, the words in Green are a rearrangement. Unhighlighted text isn’t substantially in the Army press release.



Plagiarism? You bet…I really wonder at the wisdom of putting your byline on such an obvious cut and paste job.

The original press release is here incase you don’t believe me.



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  • Michael

    How embarrassing… you wouldn’t even really describe Kurt Bayer as a journalist with work like that, would you?

  • rightoverlabour

    Should be fired. We fail kids at school for doing this and you’ll get your arse kicked out of Uni for far less. But then, who in their right minds actually reads this crap?

    • LesleyNZ

      It is a good news story.

    • Arran Hunt

      Actually, after the left had their way, I don’t think we fail kids anymore at school. Now we congratulate them for just being there and having an opinion (even if the opinion is just somebody else’s rehashed). Hmmm how long ago did this guy leave school?

  • Josh Metcalfe

    I would much rather them do that than give them the opportunity to put spin and their own bias all over an article

  • I do it for the blog, but I give source for everything and make sure it is obviously quoted.

    And I’m not even a decent journalist, trained and skilled.

  • Patrick

    Plagiarism? That’s not a fair accusation, probably took ages to teach this drone “Ctrl C” & “Ctrl V.” Not easy picking up those skills at Journo school, takes years of practice. Bet is is one of the tests during the interview process at the mighty NZ Herald.

  • Never in the dark…..

    “how else do you explain the paper having the best readership and circulation results in the country over the past three years?”

    If it was so great why do I get an invite in my mailbox every few months to try a ‘free, no obligation’ 5-week subscription? Not to mention the frequent phone calls.

    But I must thank you, I have one more little reference to offer the callers when they ask “Any particular reason you prefer not to subscribe?”

    • Orange

      Ah the line “Sorry, I prefer to read Whaleoil.” And the stunned silence from the other end that follows.

  • DLNZ

    When I owned a business I would never talk to reporters. The one and only time I was interviewed about a community project, they got the article completely wrong, even the organisation we were supporting was reported incorrectly. So it was media releases from then on, which were usually copied and pasted word for word.

    Its a sad day when you can write 75% of a newspaper article yourself and its more balanced, factual and correctly spelt than a person who does it for a living.

    • AnonWgtn

      Like the stupid Auckland Sunday Herald today.
      They attributed the Air NZ cabin pressure loss in a B737 300 to a Singapore flap panel loss, found after landing from Singapore to be the same aircraft, a B777 300.
      Duh do not the Herald know that AirNZ was a B737 300 – about a third of the size of the B777.

      • Honcho

        Air NZ hasn’t even operated -300’s for some time, that series of 737’s are referred to now as ‘classics’. They are a seriously old aircraft.

  • LesleyNZ

    Kurt Bayer should have put quotation marks and listed the source. He needs a rap over the knuckles. Interesting that APN Holdings have a copyright at the bottom – and yet they don’t own most of this article. Bit like stealing something that is not yours but saying it is yours. A good Army press release – even duck shooters should have a copy of this Bible.

  • Greg Davis

    Grylls goes down in my estimation. Bible fans are just like those who follow wacky beliefs like homeopathy.

    • LesleyNZ

      “Grylls writes: ” have learnt though, over the years, from numerous expeditions close calls and hairy moments, from Everest, through to my time in the SAS, the Arctic and the Antarctic, that it takes a proud man to say that he never needs any help. And I have yet to meet an atheist in Everest’s Death Zone or in a lifeboat!”

      • George

        Evidently he’s suffered some brain damage over the years.
        The only use for a bible is to help light fires and use as toilet paper.
        There are many atheists who go to sea and climb mountains and who stay away from god botherers

  • kehua

    Conmen and conwomen are doing it all ther bloody time, useless pricks who had the benefit of interest free Education to churn out other peoples work.

  • Michael

    Perhaps the Herald should just run the press releases as they are, and keep 1 page for actual journalism, or they could even try investigative journalism where they could uncover something. Seriously the most difficult thing they do now is restructuring someone else’s sentence.