Archive for the ‘journalists’ tag

The Case of the Missing Journalists

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What’s the similarity between these 7 Telegraph sports journalists?
  • Oliver Clive (44 articles since November 2007, most recent on 30th June)
  • Austin Peters (109 articles since October 2007, most recent on 18th May)
  • Charles Carrick (169 articles since October 2007, most recent on 1st July)
  • Matthew Hannah (14 articles since September 2008, most recent on 30th June)
  • William Gray (180 articles since October 2007, most recent on 28th June)
  • Perry Crooke (60 articles since October 2007, most recent on 16th June)
  • Dan Harbles (35 articles since November 2008, most recent on 30th June)
Well, according to Private Eye, they don’t exist. They’re made up. Invented. Plucked from the imagination of someone in the Telegraph’s London HQ.

When I first read this allegation in Private Eye I admit, in my naïve way, I was unconvinced. I’m aware that news organisations have, for a very long time, published articles that bear a remarkable similiarity to agency copy with a byline from one of their own journalists. But inventing non-existent journalists is a step on from this. Would the Telegraph, the newspaper that was so – rightly – aghast at the improprieties of MPs create fictional correspondents? Wouldn’t that be potentially pretty embarrassing? And anyway, given they’ve got such a good repertoire of sports journalists in house, what would be the motivation?

But, having checked it with the help of the new Journalisted, it would appear to be true.

The new Journalisted site has a terribly helpful ‘similar articles’ feature, which finds stories that cover similar subjects. This is great for contextualising an article, for seeing alternative reviews (e.g. of books or films) and for checking facts.

But it also has another use. It makes it much easier to see when someone has simply republished copy from a news agency or a press release.

This is what I did with the allegedly non-existent Telegraph journalists. I looked up their profiles on Journalisted, checked their articles, and found that many of them bore a remarkable similarity to articles in other newspapers that were either not bylined or credited to agencies.
Take this football story, by ‘Oliver Clive’ on 5th May:

“Porto left-back Aly Cissokho is set to make a decision on his future at the end of the season after claiming Tottenham are interested in him.”

A story that was also covered in the Daily Express, without a byline:

“Porto left-back Aly Cissokho is set to make a decision on his future at the end of the season after claiming Tottenham are interested in him.”

Slapping a made-up journalist’s name on news agency copy is one thing, but it gets worse. And this is where there is a material difference from what is, I’m told, an age old practice of bylining agency copy. Someone appears to have gone through the copy and edited out references to other news organisations.

The same football article in the Express, for example, quoted Cissokho: ‘”I have a contract until 2012 and the club officials want me to add another year to that,” he told’ Yet in the Telegraph the reference to was removed. Later in the article a separate quote, attributed to was also removed from the Telegraph’s piece (accessed 2-7-09).

So, not only is the paper inventing bylines, but someone appears to be going through the agency copy and excising reference to competitors.

To check this wasn’t an unfortunate recent graduate called Oliver Clive being told to churn out agency copy I called the Telegraph and asked to speak to Clive. He could not be found. I emailed him at No answer. Nor has there yet been any response from the other six ‘correspondents’ (if there is I’ll update this blog and make that apparent).

I’ve since managed to track down someone at the Telegraph. He did not deny the Private Eye story but said he thought it was hypocritical of a magazine that uses many pseudonyms and that it ignored the fact that this is ‘standard industry practice’. It was not, he suggested, a big deal – and was done more than anything for ‘design reasons’, because it looked odd to have an article without a byline (though the majority of BBC news online articles are published without bylines, and lots of the Express online is not bylined).

Even if one accepts that, in an age of print, this was a common and recognised inside practice, does that make it justified? And, in the age of blogging, linking, transparency, and of the importance of cementing the brand of your journalists? Isn’t it time it stopped?

Written by Martin Moore

July 2nd, 2009 at 10:03 am

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Contacting journalists

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Responding to popular demand… we’ve added a couple more bits of information to

We at Journalisted get lots and lots of emails asking us for the contact details of journalists. In response we do our best to explain that we don’t keep contact details, and only publish email addresses on the site if they’re published below the journalist’s articles.

Still, this seemed a little lame. So we’ve added a bit more information that we hope will be more helpful. If someone writes regularly for a particular national news outlet then we make a guess at their email based on the standard email format for that organisation (e.g. – making sure people know it’s a guess of course. Oh, and if that doesn’t work then we’ve stuck up the telephone number of the news organisation too. For example, see Rob Adams at the Herald –

If you happen to be a journalist and this email is wrong, you’re more than welcome to send us the right one and we’ll replace it (

And, as ever, please send us any ideas or thoughts you have as to how we can make the site better and more useful. Further updates coming soon…

Written by Martin Moore

July 9th, 2008 at 2:00 pm

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Journalisted adds biographical links

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Yet more useful features on journalisted

As Comment is Free has shown, a brief bio about a journalist can be helpful when reading their opinion. It gives you a little more context and colour and – sometimes – gives you a steer on where the journalist is coming from.

I didn’t know, for example, that Simon Jenkins has edited the Evening Standard as well as The Times. Nor was I aware that David Aaronovitch was the author of ‘Paddling to Jerusalem: An Aquatic Tour of Our Small Country’ (2000). And though I knew Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s articles from Baghdad I hadn’t realised he also reported from behind the insurgent lines in Falluja.

This is why we’ve just added some biographical details to When there is a Wikipedia page on a journalist or biographical details on Comment is Free we’ll indicate that and provide a link through. It’s only these two at the moment but as time goes on we’ll keep adding more.

Oh, and we’ve had alot of people emailing us asking for contact details of journalists. For the record we don’t keep contact details but if a journalist has helpfully provided their email at the bottom of one of their articles, journalisted will now automatically display that address on the journalist’s page.

If you have any more suggestions for the site feel free to email and let me / us know (

Written by Martin Moore

May 6th, 2008 at 5:05 pm

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Express journalists writing on 'Madeleine'

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BTW, the Express may have removed all Madeleine McCann articles from its website but, thanks to we still know that each of these Express journalists has written more about ‘Madeleine’ than anything else in the last 6 months (based on more than 50 articles published by each journalist on

Martin Evans
David Pilditch
Padraic Flanagan
Nick Fagge
Martin Stote
Matt Drake

Written by Martin Moore

March 19th, 2008 at 11:51 am

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