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Have They No Shame?

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An Unreal friend checked in at our morning's inbox with this:
Did Kristen Hinman change her name to Tim Barker and start writing for the P-D? Surely the P-D writers aren't so brazenly lazy to simply take one of your articles, throw away the interesting but not-so-newsy background paragraphs and slap their byline on it. Tell me it isn't so. (I'm sure this goes on far more than we average readers realize.) Did he make any original contribution to the coverage whatsoever?

Let's take those in order:

No, she didn't. Yes, they are. It is so. (Yes, it does.) No, he didn't.

In case you're not as careful a reader of St. Louis' Only Daily as our buddy, he's referring to the top story on A1 of the Post today, entitled, "America's Center, unions spar." And in case you're not as careful a reader of Riverfront Times as our buddy, Unreal's cubicle-mate Kristen Hinman wrote that story a month ago!

Really, that's pretty much par for the course when it comes to daily newspapers. They steal stories from the competition all the time, and they do it without giving credit, essentially by going out and re-reporting everything the original writer found, then repackaging it as their own.

Still, today's Post is remarkable in that it contains no fewer than four examples of this practice.

Just beneath Hinman's story on A1 is an article by Michele Munz, entitled, "Urban Oasis," which describes New Roots Urban Farm, an urban farming collective located in inner-city north St. Louis. That story takes a page from Molly Langmuir's February 1 feature, "Cool to Be Kind," which profiled the north side's Catholic Worker community, of which New Roots is a part.

But wait! There's more!

Turning to page two of the Post's Metro section, we're greeted with Tim O'Neil's "More funds sought for Juneteenth," a tale Chad Garrison told in our May 17 issue (the same paper that contained Hinman's convention-center exposé).

Got time for another? Back on A1 there's a left-rail tease for the online version of the Post-Dispatch's "Special Report" from this past Sunday, Virginia Young and Jake Wagman's scintillatingly titled "A tax-credit bill for one man?" For our take on that story, you have to go back all the way to January 11, when we published a story by Randall Roberts called "Phantom of the Hood."

We couldn't have known back then that north St. Louis slum-hog Paul McKee Jr. had cooked up tax-credit legislation for himself in Jefferson City, because he hadn't done it yet. But we did know he was gobbling up decrepit real estate like a fat man at a feed trough, so we wrote about it. (In case you're wondering, we found out about the developer's tax-credit two-step a few weeks ago and will run our own follow-up in the RFT that hits the streets tomorrow.)

Unreal would pay a nickel to eavesdrop on the Post-Dispatch's newsroom to learn precisely how this stuff goes down.

Does an editor come storming in, waving a copy of RFT and hollering, "Wagman! Young! I want a draft on my desk tomorrow!"?

Or does Tim Barker pick up his weekly Riverfront Times and peruse the feature, then make a note to pitch the story in a month to his editor, who, if he reads our paper at all, skips straight to Savage Love and the sex ads?

Our money's on Scenario #2.

-Unreal



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