CNI – Church News Ireland is portrayed online by its compiler, the Very Rev. Dr Houston McKelvey OBE QVRM TD as a magazine. To my mind that makes Dr McKelvey a publisher. Whilst it is clear that magazines publish articles not always written by their publishers, it is customary to give credit to those that do write them. This does not appear to be being done in CNI. Much of the content appears to be “lifted” from news reports published elsewhere, but without references to the original place of publication, nor to the original author. This feels like he is basically recycling stories from other news websites but without referencing them. Is that fair?
Dr McKelvey, I am told, was a former editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, and as such, I would expect him to know that
“There is no copyright infringement in reporting—in a re-written version—the facts uncovered or published by others (Springfield v Thame (1903) 89 LT 242)”Mark Hanna & Mike Dodd, McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists, 25th edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), p. 387.
However, many of the stories in CNI are not rewritten: they are lifted verbatim without references. If students were to quote verbatim at length as has been done, without references, without showing that it is someone else’s work, it would be seen as plagiarism, and this would be seen as an academic offence.
A selection of these stories includes:
- “Don’t repeal Easter licensing laws, clerics tell Stormont” (CNI 2021-03-02) is actually from the “Sunday Life” 2021-02-28 https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sunday-life/news/dont-repeal-easter-booze-laws-clerics-tell-stormont-40127071.html
- “Petition calls for removal of Cadbury’s Crème Egg advert featuring gay couple claiming gratuitous offence to Christians” (CNI 2021-03-02) is actually from Premier Christian News (2021-02-18) https://premierchristian.news/en/news/article/petition-to-remove-creme-egg-advert-with-gay-couple-for-causing-offence-to-members-of-the-christian-community
- “Black majority church leaders join forces to show support for Covid-19 vaccine amid hesitation from congregations to take the jab.” (CNI 2021-03-02) is actually from Premier Christian News (2021-02-28) https://premierchristian.news/en/news/article/black-majority-churches-join-forces-to-show-support-for-covid-19-vaccine-amid-hesitation-from-congregations-to-take-the-jab
- “Book of Common Prayer services in C of E see huge numbers tuning in amid pandemic lockdowns” (CNI 2021-03-01) appears to be from the website of the Church of England (2021-02-23) https://www.churchofengland.org/news-and-media/stories-and-features/book-common-prayer-services-see-huge-numbers-tuning-seeking
- “10 years after quake, Christ Church Cathedral finally rising” (CNI 2021-03-01) appears to be the article written by Nick Perry, Associated Press which can be found in all sorts of places online including 2021-02-19 (updated 2021-02-20) https://www.expressnews.com/news/article/10-years-after-quake-Christ-Church-Cathedral-15965646.php
- “Stop housing asylum-seekers in military barracks, say bishops” (CNI 2021-03-01) is actually a report in the Church Times written by Tim Wyatt (2021-02-19) https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2021/19-february/news/uk/stop-housing-asylum-seekers-in-military-barracks-say-bishops
It is clear that Fr McKelvey does understand about referencing as he has done so in yesterday’s magazine in the article about the Mount Sion choir, “courtesy waterforlive.ie”. Not that he gives a link to the actual story. That would be too helpful.
It is not just the words that are problematic, it is also the images that are published without acknowledgement of who took them. For instance, the Image of the Day for today, of Rochester Cathedral was share by Rochester Cathedral themselves, but they referenced the photographer, “racha_bassi”. Unfortunately, Fr McKelvey seems to think it is fair to just share other people’s photographs without even crediting them.
If Dr McKelvey cannot take the time to rewrite the stories he publishes, then I call on him to show some professionalism and reference the articles and photographs he compiles and republishes. It is only fair.